Friday, April 29, 2016

Students at a Maryland high school come together after two deaths

As Winston Churchill High School mourned the loss of a second student in less than two months, more than 150 students converged on a Potomac park hoping to forge a stronger sense of community while they honored those who died.
Balloons festooned a goal post, and music played as students mingled. The gathering on Sunday had the feel of a spring picnic — three-legged races, blankets spread out on the grass — but with a deeper sense of purpose.
Churchill has lost two of its own since February: Alyson “Alex” Baumann, 15, a sophomore who died Feb. 25, and Anna “Maya” Castillo, 17, a junior who died April 17. Both families have confirmed that the teenagers took their own lives...

County Police to Update Policy for Using Tasers

County Police to Update Policy for Using Tasers: Move comes after report was published detailing deadly incidents involving county police

Lockdowns Common in D.C.-Area School Districts

Washington, D.C.-area public schools ordered at least 30 lockdowns since 2014, according to a review of security records by the News4 I-Team.
A lockdown, a security measure often used when police report weapons or threats near school buildings, requires students to be secured inside classrooms and an elaborate regimen for principals and administrators...

Howard Co: Generous school budget proposal is anything but 'devastating'

...School leaders need to get out of the dark, put the brakes on such hyperbolic turn-out-the-lights language and consider the facts. The school system is getting a fair amount of taxpayer money. The school superintendent and board members must do their jobs and manage spending effectively and efficiently.

George Leventhal: Suburbs were a Mistake

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Montgomery Council calls for reduction in wage in negotiated wage hikes

...Leggett and the Board of Education have until May 10 to renegotiate wage provisions with unions and send a revised package back to the council. Leggett and the board could also opt to leave the increases unchanged.
The council has the authority to set pay. It is scheduled to take final action on the budget May 26...

Why Phones Don’t Belong in School

A recent Los Angeles Times’ article reveals that teachers across America must compete with students’ phones for attention. Matt Miles, a high school teacher from Fairfax County, Virginia, says the problem is getting worse: “Whereas 5 years ago, I could quietly ask the one rebellious student to put his or her phone away with no real interruption to class, doing that today would require multiple conversations with a majority of my class.”
The push for students to use phones while at school, and even during class, comes from this generation of preteens and teens who — as illustrated by the recent documentary Screenagers — struggle to stop playing with their phones. Adding fuel to the fire are tech pundits who claim that smartphones provide learning opportunities for children. Parents, too, may want to communicate by phone with their kids throughout the school day.
But new research is questioning the wisdom of allowing phones in school, as studies reveal this practice is putting students’ learning and safety at risk...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

State BOE Issues Opinion on "Opt Out" of State Assessments

Bowers Putting Cell Tower on Another Red Zone School Playground. 80% Free & Reduced Lunch School to Get Cell Tower

Yellow dots show existing cell towers on MCPS playgrounds.
Larry Bowers time as superintendent is almost up, but he still has one more cell tower he wants to put on a Red Zone (low income student population) playground.

The pink arrow in the image at left shows the location of Neelsville Middle School in Germantown.

As reported by ABC7 in 2015:  MCPS places controversial cellular towers at predominantly high-poverty schools, stats show

The agenda item shown below details that MCPS staff have already taken this proposal to the Montgomery County Tower Committee without the approval of the land owner, the Board of Education.  Superintendent Larry Bowers is pushing ahead with this construction project without the approval of the Board of Education.

FARMS = Free and Reduced Meals, an indicator of poverty.

Dixon, Kauffman to Face Off for School Board in November

Dixon, Kauffman to Face Off for School Board in November: Incumbent Kauffman will take on former high school principal in general election

2016 Board of Education Unofficial Primary Results for Montgomery County

"You don’t have to be sick to get better,” Dr. Jack Smith

MCPS Finalizes New Superintendent

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Public Hearing Today on Increasing Property Taxes in Montgomery County

Public Hearing Today at 1:30 PM at Montgomery County Council

More information at this link:

Current yield rate:  .723 per $100 of assessed value.  (this does not include the State tax and all the other fees)
State recommend for coming year: .7004 (because assessments up)
County Exec Recommend: .7754
Council Staff Recommend: .7754

This is a 3.2% increase in the rate and a 10.7% increase in the Constant Yield Tax Rate.  This would require 9 votes on the Council because the 10.7 % increase in the CYTR is above the rate of inflation (by a lot).  Current inflation rate is between .8% and 1.2%

120 Cell Tower Applications Coming Soon to Montgomery County Neighborhoods

The Montgomery County Office of Zoning and Administrative Hearings (OZAH) workload is increasing. 
In recent months, an agent for Verizon Wireless has submitted dozens of small cell applications to the Towers Committee and is expected to submit dozens more in the coming weeks; those will make their way to OZAH for hearings in FY 2017.
The Transmission Facilities Coordinating Group, or Towers Group (TFCG), has informed OZAH that it expects to receive about 140 cell tower applications in the coming months with about 120 needing conditional use hearings.  
Under County law, the Applicant has ninety days after TFCG approval to apply for a conditional use. The Department of Permitting Services has indicated that unless the telecommunications facility is to be placed on an existing structure, a conditional use approval will be required before DPS will issue a permit. These conditional use hearings are expected to be hotly contested by nearby homeowners."

Monday, April 25, 2016

.@mocoboe Pays Outside Lawyer $48,056 in January 2016 Fighting Families of Children With Special Needs

Special Education Legal Expenses

Special education legal fees for outside counsel for January 2016 totaled $48,056.

The year-to-date total of $167,902 is $3,161 (1.9 percent) less than the same period in the previous
How much 1:1 tutoring would $48,056 buy for students in an effort to "close the gap?"
The current Board of Education prefers to spend their money elsewhere.

Wheaton Library scheduling mixup frustrates library users

"This has been going on too long. Every time we get an inch closer, we're pushed back a mile. It's just ridiculous that this has taken place, and it would not happen in other communities. It would not happen in Potomac, it would not happen in Bethesda, and it would not happen in Chevy Chase."

BOE Moves Ahead with Bus Depot on Rt. 355 in Rockville

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weapon offense at Tilden Middle School

Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row: Weapon offense at Tilden MS, 3 drug busts in Bethe...: Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on April 21, according to crime data: Drug arrest. Old Georgetown Road at Arling...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Rockville Science Day to be held Sunday, April 24 at Montgomery College

Sunday, April 24, 2016
Noon to 5:00 P.M.
at Montgomery College
51 Mannakee St, Rockville, MD 20850 (map)

The 27th annual Rockville Science Day will be held at the Rockville campus of Montgomery College on Sunday, April 24 from noon to 5:00. Plan to join us for an afternoon of family fun, with hands-on exhibits, demonstrations and performances in all fields of science, including:
  • Environment & Nature
  • Space & Astronomy
  • Reptiles & Birds
  • Chemistry & Biology
  • Robotics & Rockets



Thank you to everyone who has volunteered for setup on Saturday and for Science Day on Sunday. We look forward to seeing you at the Information Booth in front of the gym (PE building) at the start of your shift.



We are no longer taking registrations for exhibits and look forward to seeing the 90 exhibitors who signed up on Science Day!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Coalition Makes Progress Toward Stopping Bus Depot

Coalition Makes Progress Toward Stopping Bus Depot

Rockville just says "No" to Carver bus depot

ROCKVILLE – The mayor and City Council joined opponents of a plan to set up a temporary school bus depot at the Carver Education Services Center, voting unanimously Monday against the proposal.
The City Council voted 5-0 in favor of submitting a letter endorsing an April 8 memorandum authored by Board of Education member Philip Kauffman to the Montgomery County Council and County Executive Ike Leggett.
In the memo, Kauffman requested council members “delay their Declaration of No Further Need on the Shady Grove Transportation Depot” until a number of concerns “are clarified and resolved.”
“This would include the identification of both the interim and final solutions to our transportation depot situation, with a timeline and associated Capital Improvements Program funding identified for the permanent solution,” said Kauffman in the letter.
The Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize the Board of Education President Michael Durso (District 5) “to write a letter to the county executive and the County Council to request implementation of a final solution for the relocation of all school buses before the current Shady Grove Transportation Depot is released for its intended use.”
City Council member Mark Pierzchala drafted the letter amended by City Council members Monday night and sent Tuesday morning.
Concerns listed in the letter signed by Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton include:
  • The Carver site being in a city-designated Historic District;
  • Noise, visual and air quality impacts from buses running within 50-100 feet of several townhouses;
  • Traffic impacts on MD 355 and neighborhood roads;
  • Hundreds of bus trips across the street from Montgomery College; and
  • The plan not aligning with the city’s master plan.

Legal Aid files suit against Montgomery Co. over no-trespass order

Attorney, law clerk were barred from visiting migrant farmworkers

Maryland Legal Aid has filed a federal lawsuit against Montgomery County challenging the constitutionality of a no-trespass order issued by county police to Legal Aid employees who attempted to visit migrant farmworkers at a local farm.
Nohora Rivero, a Legal Aid attorney and plaintiff in the suit, attempted to visit employees of Lewis Orchards in Dickerson with a summer law clerk on Aug. 18 to inform the workers about their rights and refer them to legal and other social service providers, according to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
But the farm’s owners confronted Rivero and Spencer Evans, ordering them to leave, the suit states. The owners then called the county police, and an officer who was dispatched to the farm also told them to leave the property despite being shown a copy of a Maryland attorney general’s opinion affirming Legal Aid’s right to visit the workers, the suit states.
The officer, Alexander Kettering, issued no-trespass warnings to the Legal Aid employees, barring them from returning to the property for one year, the suit states...

...Lewis Orchards employs 12 migrant farmworkers from Mexico, who have work visas for seasonal agricultural work, according to the lawsuit. The workers depend on their employer for transportation back to their home country.
On Aug. 18, Rivero and Evans planned to speak with the workers about the legal services available to them and to distribute brochures about workers’ rights, the Affordable Care Act and complying with U.S. tax laws, the suit states. They spoke with workers at one migrant camp at the farm, who told them they were required to work overtime but were not paid at a time-and-a-half rate, a labor law violation.
“If you don’t know your rights, you cannot fight for your rights,” Rivero said. “It is very important for the farm workers to see us and others that want to see them.”...

Mayor Newton Opposes Interim Bus Depot Plan in Rockville

Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton testifed in opposition of a plan to move 100 buses from the Shady Grove Bus Depot to the Carver Educational Center Services parking lot, during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.
“We’re very interested in working with you and all of our Montgomery County partners to find you a solution for a problem that we understand is a real problem, but we do not want it in the city of Rockville,” Newton told school board members.
Newton was joined by other concerned residents, who also made statements about the adverse impact the buses would have in their community. Residents have created a petition in opposition of the plan.
The County government has set a deadline of January 2017 for the Shady Grove Bus Depot to be vacated so that developers can begin building a neighborhood near the Shady Grove Metro station...

University student dies after fall from cell tower

Miami University student dies after fall from cell tower

Thursday, April 21, 2016

County Council Likely to Recommend Against Some Salary Increases for County Employees, Teachers

County Council Likely to Recommend Against Some Salary Increases for County Employees, Teachers:

“In a county government where 80 percent of costs go to salaries and benefits, 90 percent for [Montgomery County Public Schools], moderating salary increases has to be part of the overall solution for finding the resources necessary for critical service improvements,” council member Nancy Navarro said at Thursday’s hearing.
As part of its budget request, the school board approved contracts that could mean an 8 percent raise next fiscal year for its employees eligible for second step-increases.
As currently negotiated, the salary increases for teachers, administrators, principals and support staff would mean $74.1 million in additional costs for the next fiscal year, a total that council members suggested should be reduced to allow funding to hire more teachers to decrease class sizes and to pay for more programming aimed at closing the achievement gap.
But that decision would be up to the Board of Education, which decides how to allocate the education funding the county provides for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).