Board of Education Discusses Environmental Sustainability; Receives Update on Innovation Schools

May 17, 2013
The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Among other items, the Board discussed MCPS’ environmental sustainability efforts, received an update on the launch of the Innovation Schools initiative, and held a discussion on changes in COMAR requirements related to curriculum advisory committees. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website. You can also watch video of the meeting by clicking here.

Environmental Sustainability

The Board of Education received an update and held a discussion on MCPS’ environmental sustainability practices. MCPS has become a recognized leader in several areas of sustainability and environmental stewardship. On April 22, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education recognized Cedar Grove and Summit Hall elementary schools with National Green Ribbon School Awards and recognized MCPS with the National Green Ribbon District Sustainability Award. MCPS has many programs and initiatives in place, including:

- Education and Awareness, including outdoor education, school gardens, environmental literacy, and the School Energy and Recycling Team (SERT) program;

- Resource Conservation/Utilities, including conservation efforts, use of energy-saving products, and growing use of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind;

- Solid Waste and Recycling, including policies and practices that have doubled the district’s recycling rate in just five years and the use of office supplies made of post-consumer waste materials;

- Construction and Land Use, including a commitment to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) practices and the use of green construction materials;

- Transportation, including a yearly review of bus routes to reduce the number of buses needed and the installation of sustainable equipment; 

- Technology, including the use of more energy efficient computer equipment and scheduled shutdowns of computers to save energy.

MCPS is now in the process of developing an environmental sustainability management plan that will serve as a roadmap for managing future sustainability efforts and programs. This plan also will provide MCPS with a formal framework to coordinate efforts, track progress, and explore innovations for the future while balancing a record that measures the financial, social, and environmental performance of MCPS.

Read the Board Memo

Innovation Schools

The Board of Education received an update from Superintendent Joshua Starr and held a discussion on the schools that will participate in MCPS’ new initiative to improve student performance and narrow achievement gaps. The district’s first 10 Innovation Schools will receive intense support in designing and implementing innovative school improvement strategies and professional learning plans. MCPS’ Chief School Improvement Officer will serve as the case manager for each school and make sure the strategies and plans are implemented and supported by central office.

The Innovation Schools are Clopper Mill, Strathmore, and Watkins Mill elementary schools; Argyle, A. Mario Loiederman, and Montgomery Village middle schools; John F. Kennedy, Springbrook, and Watkins Mill high schools; and the alternative programs.

Innovation Schools were first identified through an examination of a variety of student outcome data, spanning all grade levels. Other factors were then considered, including the status of current school improvement efforts and leadership. The Chief School Improvement Officer will work with each school to conduct a needs assessment that will allow for the development of an improvement plan customized to the need of each school. The improvement work in each school will be led by the principal and his or her leadership team.

Learn more about Innovation Schools

Changes in State Requirements for Curriculum Advisories

The Board held a discussion on changes to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) requirements for curriculum advisories. Revisions to COMAR §13A.04.18 changed state mandates for health education and COMAR no longer requires local board oversight of health education beyond local policies and regulations for curriculum development and instructional materials evaluation and selection. In light of these changes, the Board voted to dissolve the Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development (CACFLHD) as a Board-appointed committee and to align procedures for reviewing Comprehensive Health Education curriculum and materials with the procedures of all other content areas in MCPS. The Board also voted to have Montgomery County Public Schools review its current health education curriculum, in particular the lessons related to respect in grades 8 and 10.

Read the Board Memo

Mathematics Final Exam Performance

The Board received an update from Dr. Starr and engaged in a discussion on how the district will look into high final exam failure rates in high school, especially in mathematics. Dr. Starr emphasized that final exam performance is only one data point and must be considered in context. Overall, he said, students in MCPS perform well in mathematics, but it is important to address concerns about exams and offer support to students who have gaps in their mathematics knowledge.  A group of MCPS administrators and teachers will convene to determine how the district can best support students who are not doing well on the exams. The work of this group should be completed before the beginning of next school year. Dr. Starr will also bring together a multi-stakeholder group, including parents and students, to provide ongoing feedback and input on systemic issues in mathematics education in MCPS.

Administrative Appointments

The Board of Education approved the following administrative appointments:

-Andrew M. Zuckerman, currently associate superintendent, Area 1, Prince George’s County Public Schools as chief of staff, Office of the Superintendent of Schools

-Niki T. Hazel, currently supervisor, Elementary Integrated Curriculum Team, as director, Elementary Integrated Curriculum Team

-June L. Zillich, currently student services specialist, as supervisor, Linkages to Learning and School-based Health Services, Office of the Chief Engagement and Partnership Officer

-Yolanda R. Allen, currently principal intern, Gaithersburg Elementary School, as principal, Goshen Elementary School

-Wanda L. Means Harris, currently assistant principal, Sequoyah Elementary School, as principal, Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School

-Shoua F. Moua, currently principal, Bruce F. Vento Elementary School, Saint Paul Public School District, Saint Paul, MN, as principal, Woodlin Elementary School

Other Action: The Board also took action on several items, including: 

Approved the preliminary plans for the Arcola Elementary School addition project

-Approved the preliminary plans for the Rosemary Hills Elementary School addition project

Resolutions: The Board unanimously approved the following:

A resolution recognizing May 5 through May 11, 2013 as Pupil Personnel Worker Week

- A resolution recognizing the 2013 NAACP Scholarship Recipients

- A resolution recognizing May 6 through May 10, 2013 as the 28th annual School Nutrition Employee Week 

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: Mr. Christopher Barclay, president; Mr. Philip Kauffman, vice president. Members: Ms. Shirley Brandman, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Michael Durso, Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, 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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