Board of Education Discusses Modernization of Wheaton and Edison High Schools; Finalizes School Fund-raising Policy; Approves Technology Modernization

September 13, 2012
The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Among other items, the Board held a work session on the district’s strategic priorities for the 2012-2013 school year, discussed the modernization of Wheaton High School and Thomas Edison High School of Technology, took final action on Policy CND, School-Related Fund-raising, and received an update on the opening of schools. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website.

Modernization of Wheaton High School and Thomas Edison High School of Technology

The Board of Education received preliminary plans for the modernization of Wheaton High School and Thomas Edison High School of Technology. The modernized Wheaton High School facility is scheduled to open in August of 2015, and the Thomas Edison facility will open in 2017. Superintendent Joshua Starr recommended new, innovative programs and learning opportunities for both schools to the Board that will enhance efforts to prepare students for success in the 21st century. Among the changes under consideration is the creation of a project-based learning environment at Wheaton High School that would allow students to work across curricular areas and employ 21st century skills, such as collaboration, communication, analysis and creativity. Instructional improvement for Thomas Edison will include the addition of a Homeland Security program that will prepare students for further education and employment. MCPS is also in preliminary discussion with Junior Achievement to offer a financial literacy program at Edison for all MCPS middle school students. Read the Board memo 

More information on program improvements at Wheaton/Edison

Opening of Schools

The Board heard a report from MCPS staff on the opening of schools. MCPS welcomed nearly 149,000 students on Monday, August 27, 2012, an increase of more than 2,500 students from 2011. The first day of school was highlighted by the opening of Flora M. Singer Elementary School in Silver Spring, MCPS’ first new school in three years, and the newly modernized Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville. Both projects were built using green construction materials and have environmentally friendly features. MCPS hired 800 new teachers and more than 200 supporting services staff over the summer to support the district’s growing enrollment.   

Fiscal Year 2014 Board Operating Budget Interests

The Board has concluded its discussions on operating budget interests and has selected its top 10 interests for Fiscal Year 2014. This is the second year that the Board has shared its budgetary interests with Dr. Starr as he begins the process of developing an operating budget recommendation for the next fiscal year.  Dr. Starr will present his FY 2014 Operating Budget recommendation to the Board in December.
Read the Board memo

Technology Modernization

The Board of Education approved contracts and a request for supplemental funding for a technology infrastructure improvement project. The proposal will provide wireless access in every MCPS school. The proposal will also place a Promethean interactive whiteboard in every elementary school classroom by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. Currently, 34 elementary schools have no Promethean interactive whiteboards and 80 elementary schools have fewer than 10 Promethean interactive whiteboards. Similarly, only 31 of the 132 elementary schools have full-building wireless connectivity, and only 11 of our 25 comprehensive high schools have comparable full-building wireless network coverage. The money for these technology improvements is included in the FY 2013-FY 2018 Capital Improvement Program, approved by the Montgomery County Council in May. The request assumes the use of federal Education Rate (E-Rate) dollars that must be appropriated by the County Council.

Policy CND, School-Related Fund-Raising

The Board of Education approved changes to Policy CND,
School-Related Fund-raising. On March 13, 2012, the Board tentatively approved these changes and sent the revised policy out for public comment. Five comments were received. The policy provides a framework for school-related fund-raising activities in or on behalf of Montgomery County Public Schools that safeguards instructional time, maximizes the safety of students, supports a common school experience for all students, and includes appropriate accountability provisions.  See the revised policy

District-wide Concussion Testing Program

The Board was informed by Superintendent Starr that MCPS is considering a districtwide baseline testing program to assist in identifying student-athletes who suffer concussions and to help in determining when they can safely return to the playing field. Baseline testing is an exam conducted during the pre-season that assesses an athlete’s balance and brain function, including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solves problems. MCPS will request proposals from outside providers that can administer and maintain such a testing program. A workgroup will meet in the coming weeks to determine what information should be included in the Request for Proposal before it is sent out.
Read the Board memo

Board Work Plan

The Board held a work session where it discussed the significant topics that will define the Board’s work plan for 2012-2013.  The Board’s work plan is aligned with the three strategic priorities for the 2012-2013 school year: interventions, community engagement and professional development.

Other Items

The Board also took action on other items:

-Passed a resolution declaring September 15 to October 15, 2012 to be observed as “Hispanic Heritage Month”
-Passed a resolution solemnly proclaiming September 11, 2012, as “September 11, A Day of Remembrance”

About the Board of Education
The Montgomery County Board of Education is the official educational policymaking body in the county. The Board is responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system. The Board consists of seven county residents elected by voters for a four-year term and a student elected by secondary school students for a one-year term. Board members are elected countywide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside.

Montgomery County Board of Education: Ms. Shirley Brandman, president; Mr. Christopher Barclay, vice president. Members: Ms. Laura Berthiaume, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Michael Durso, Mr. Phil Kauffman, Ms. Patricia O’Neill, and Mr. John Mannes, student member. Dr. Joshua P. Starr, superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.

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