MCPS Has No Immediate Plans to Change Boundaries Across the District

July 15, 2014
Board of Education President Phil Kauffman and Superintendent Joshua P. Starr clarified Tuesday (July 15) that the Montgomery County Board of Education has no imminent plans to pursue boundary changes across the district as part of its approach to closing the achievement gap. (Watch video)

The topic of boundary changes was raised by members of the Montgomery County Council on Monday, July 14, 2014, as part of 3.5 hour discussion of Montgomery County Public Schools’ efforts to address the achievement gap. The discussion was based upon the Office of Legislative Oversight report on MCPS released in the spring. Some councilmembers suggested that MCPS should change boundaries to achieve greater economic and racial integration of schools.  While Mr. Kauffman and Dr. Starr acknowledged that adjusting boundaries might be one strategy to consider, they did not indicate any immediate plans to pursue this strategy.

Dr. Starr and Mr. Kauffman both highlighted with the council on Monday that the county’s housing and transportation policy also has a significant impact on the economic and racial integration of the county’s schools. For example, the White Flint sector plan includes 9,800 new housing units over the next few decades but only includes 980 new units of workforce housing.  This area feeds the Walter Johnson cluster of schools.

“We believe that housing, transportation and education policy should all work together to ensure that we have vibrant, thriving integrated schools and communities,” said Dr. Starr. “All three areas have to work together to achieve our vision for an integrated community that reflects the rich diversity of the county.” 

Dr. Starr did speak about a study included in the Fiscal Year 2015 operating budget to examine choice programs in MCPS. This comprehensive study will take a close look at how well choice programs such as magnet schools, immersion programs and the downcounty and northeast consortia are serving the needs of our students and leveraging the educational benefits of the rich diversity of the community. The study could consider the effect of boundaries on how these programs serve students.  In addition to numerous discussions across the MCPS community, the study will engage thought leaders and experts and include three parts:

·  Gathering and analyzing data on all the various choice and application programs and options in MCPS;
·  Benchmarking best practices in other districts; and
·  Engaging the community and stakeholders to get their opinions

Dr. Starr focused the bulk of the presentation to the council on Monday on five core strategies that are guiding the work of MCPS in addressing the achievement gap. The strategies include:

Equitable Funding and Support: MCPS will continue to devote more resources to schools with the highest needs.

Academic Rigor and Cultural Proficiency:  MCPS will ensure the curriculum provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the 21st century around all three competencies—Academic Excellence, Creative Problem Solving, and Social Emotional Learning. In addition, MCPS is investing in increasing the cultural competency of its staff at all levels.

Human Capital Management:  MCPS will work to ensure that it hires a diverse and highly qualified workforce. In addition, MCPS will continue to invest in robust professional development and support for all staff to make sure they can meet the needs of our students.

Community Engagement: MCPS will work within the MCPS community and with partner agencies and organizations to support the needs of students and their families in and out of school.

Accountability and Continuous Improvement: MCPS is committed to a culture of accountability and continuous improvement. Meaningful data drives and improves instruction and creates accountability for producing results.

Watch the full discussion with the County Council

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