Saturday, October 31, 2009

MCPS Math and the Monocacy Madness

Our friends in the Gifted and Talented Association have agonized about Montgomery County School Superintendent Dr. Weast and math for years, stating that MCPS math is shallow on teaching arithmetic concepts needed to prepare our children to take their place in society.

Here is another demonstration of Dr. Weast's failure in math.

Dr. Weast announced he plans to close Monocacy Elementary School at the end of this school year because of declining enrollment.  

Wait - don't we have over 400 portables next to schools across the county?   Three portables are currently sited at Monocacy.  Are we hearing that the school population is rising?

So why close Monocacy now?  According to Dr. Weast, this will save $1 million dollars.  How?  He doesn't say.  Won't the kids still need to be in a classroom somewhere in the county?  Won't the teachers and staff  be placed elsewhere and paid?  And school buses?  What about that new roof?  Don't forget, we still need to keep a vacant building heated, so the pipes don't freeze.

Sorry, but the capacity is needed elsewhere - down the road in Clarksburg, where Dr. Weast plans on building two new elementary schools.  And yes, MCPS can always add on to Poolesville, with more portables in the short term and an addition at an estimated cost of $14 million - oops, that's not in the current plan.

Are Dr. Weast's projections all that accurate?  You need to look no further than Matsunaga ES, an overcapacity school that was supposed to be relieved by the opening of Little Bennett.  Matsunaga still has portables - so what happened there?

And Wootton High School with its mega additions a few years back is still over capacity.  Wootton manages by running College Institute classes in cooperation with Montgomery College and sending a signficant portion of its kids out on internships, so they get the staffing allocations without having the kids in the building.   Don't forget the monster development called Science City coming to the Wootton cluster with no new schools on the table.

I would be remiss to not mention the White Flint buildup.  Again, more building without more school capacity.

Dr. Weast doesn't get the math or the big picture.  Saving $1 million dollars in operating budget costs by closing Monocacy and then spending $14 million in capital costs for an addition to Poolesville ES does not make sense.  Given the Balkanization of our county by individual clusters, the budget makes even less sense - robbing from Poolesville cluster to satisfy new MoCo residents in Clarskburg doesn't make sense,  especially when the rest of the county has unmet needs too.

Closing any school in MoCo doesn't make sense, especially when we can't accomodate the students we currently have without the extensive use of portable learning cottages.  Dr. Weast's proposal is more than foolish  - it is almost unconscionable to continue to look at the cluster model as individual units without even considering the movement of programs or boundaries.

To repeat the mantra from the elementary school teachers across the county, its time to reteach and relearn the budget math.

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