Thursday, June 30, 2011

Larry Bowers Suggests Raising Your Taxes!

MontCo predicts 2.7 percent budget shortfall for FY13 | Examiner Staff Writer | Local | Washington Examiner

Montgomery County Public Schools receives about 67 percent of its operating budget from the county, according to Larry Bowers, the school system's chief operating officer. In the last three years, the schools have eliminated 1,200 positions and skipped almost $150 million in pay increases, and this cut would be "even more of a reduction," he said.

He suggested the county find new revenue by raising taxes or not allowing the increase in the

energy tax -- which rose by 150 percent in 2010 -- to expire as scheduled in June 2012. Renewing the energy tax would mean an additional $110 million in revenue.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

UPDATE: Agenda for June 30, 2011 Joint Planning Board and Board of Education Meeting

This is an Open Meeting of these two public bodies.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Civic Fed Resolution Opposing taking Public Parks for MCPS Use

Peggy Dennis, President of the Civic Fed, asked me to pass this on to readers interested in this topic, the taking of public parks by the BOE for MCPS use. Note the PHED/Ed Committees' joint meeting on July 25th, 2pm in the Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, where this will be discussed. Directions are here. Please attend. The session will be televised. Email the council here. Tell them you agree with the Civic Fed resolution. Nancy Floreen is chair of the PHED and Valerie Ervin chairs the Ed committee.

Paula Bienenfeld
Education Committee Chair, Montgomery County Civic Federation

Ms. Dennis:

Thank you for your email of June 22 forwarding a resolution to the Council from the Montgomery County Civic Federation opposing the taking of public land for use by MCPS. I wanted to let you know that the Council’s Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee and Education Committee will hold a joint meeting on July 25 at 2:00 PM in the Council Office Building (100 Maryland Avenue, 3rd Floor Hearing Room) in Rockville to discuss school site selection issues. Officials and staff from both MCPS and M-NCPPC will participate in the discussion. Please forward this information to Civic Federation members.

Keith Levchenko
Senior Legislative Analyst
Montgomery County Council Staff
100 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor
Rockville, MD 20850
(work) 240-777-7944
(fax) 240-777-7888

From: Peggy Dennis
Sent: Wednesday, June 22,2011 5:01 PM
To: Bradford, Mary; Carrier, Francoise; Floreen's Office, Councilmember; Navarro's Office, Councilmember; Leventhal's Office, Councilmember; Andrews's Office, Councilmember; Berliner's Office, Council member; Eirich's Office, Councilmember; Ervin's Office, Councilmember; Riemer's Office, Councilmember; Rice's Office, Councilmember; BOE; Ike Leggett

Subject: Montgomery County Civic Federation position

Attached is the Resolution adopted by the Montgomery County Civic Federation opposing the taking of public park land for use by MCPS. Please read.

Peggy Dennis President, Montgomery County Civic Federation
Resolution Opposing the Taking of Public Park lands for MCPS Schools
Passed by the membership at the June 13, 2011 meeting of the Montgomery County Civic Federation.

Concerning the recent site selection process for a proposed new middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster, and what was identified by community members, the Montgomery Planning Board Chair and Parks Director as a flawed and exclusive process employed by the Montgomery County Board of Education and Montgomery County Public Schools:

Whereas 6 out of 10 sites on a recent MCPS site selection list were county parks which have been purchased and maintained with appropriated funds and,

Whereas the County Executive acted to recommend use of one park over another based on former occupancy of Rock Creek Hills Park by Kensington Junior High School, and,

Whereas an existing 34,000 acres of county parkland are valuable natural resources as well as treasured public spaces that should not be jeopardized by uses outside ofthe mission and goals of M-NCPPC, the government entity charged with Parks stewardship, and,

Whereas parks and schools are both extremely important county services that should never compete for land use, and

Whereas, parkland should not be treated as surplus or vacant property, and
Whereas other sites should be considered for redevelopment or reclamation by the Board of Education and MCPS, such as the former Montgomery Hills Middle School, and

Whereas, the Montgomery County Planning Department staff and Planning Board should meet immediately with officials from MCPS and the Board of Education to discuss alternatives to attempting to take parkland for use as school sites,

Be it resolved that the Montgomery County Civic Federation urges the State, County Executive, incoming School Superintendent Joshua Starr, Board of Education and staff in charge of school site selection at MCPS:
• to develop a transparent process for engaging and consulting with community stakeholders long before a site selection process is started for a new school building,
• to act in the future with integrity and complete transparency,
• work in consultation with professional land use planners at the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission and the Planning Director on all future land use decisions that will affect an entire community,
• refrain from attempting to take and use any parkland in Montgomery County for school sites.

MSA results: 61 schools need to improve in MCPS

Gazette:  More Montgomery schools fall short of state standards

Fewer elementary and middle school students in Montgomery County met state standards on math and reading tests this year than last, according to state data released today that show 61 schools need to improve.
Among those are Neelsville Middle in Germantown and Forest Oak Middle in Gaithersburg, which have failed to meet state goals for four years and now face restructuring that could include the replacement of principals and teachers...

Board of Education Violates Open Meetings Act - Again

I've got to hand it to the Board of Education.  Today's mail delivered a decision by the State of Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board.

The decision?  The Montgomery County Board of Education violated the Maryland State Open Meetings Act "in a number of ways."



This time the Board failed to follow the state Sunshine laws when meeting in closed session to lease the Brickyard Middle School site to the County, who in turn is planning on leasing the site for soccer fields.

The general rule is that if a public body is meeting and the subject matter is covered by the Open Meetings Act, the body must meet in open session. While the Act sets out exceptions to this general rule, the exceptions themselves are to be “strictly construed in favor of open meetings of public bodies.” §10-508(c).

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Open Meetings Act is outlined in a manual published by our esteemed Attorney General, Douglas Gansler.

Apparently, despite running a world class school system and paying top dollar for legal opinions, the Montgomery County Board of Education keeps on violating the Act. 

Our taxpayer dollars paid for legal counsel that apparently can't read.  The decision states:
In claiming the exception in its closing resolution, the County Board replaced the word "acquisition" with the word "use."  That act was doubly problematic.  First, the change was incorrect under the plain language of the statute;  the exception applies to a public body's acquision of real property, not to diverstment of an interest. [citations omitted]  Second the County Board's citation to that exception created the impression that the County Board members who voted to close the session on the basis of the resolution would in fact be discussing the acquisition of real property.
An honest mistake or a deliberate misrepresentation?  The Compliance Board obviously didn't agree with Christopher Barclay and the Board.

Also from the decision:
We conclude that the County Board violated the Open Meetings Act when it convened a closed session on the basis of a resolution that did not meet three requirements [of the state law] when it discussed matters exceeding the scope of the exception it claimed, and when it did not include meaningful information about the session in the minutes of its subsequent open meeting.  The administrative exclusion, even had the County Board closed the meeting for that purpose to discuss the Brickyard site, did not apply.
You can read the Compliance Board's decision here.

Open Meetings Compliance Board

Looks like reteach/relearn is just for the elementary school set.

Note to Dr. Starr:  Read the State Open Meetings Act manual before you take advice from the Board of Education or Montgomery County Public School staff.  And better yet - find a lawyer who will give you better legal advice at a more reasonable price.  The taxpayers don't seem to be getting a good return on their tax dollars.

Planning Bd and Bd of Education to Meet Thurs. June 30, 2011 at 6:30 PM

6:30 p.m. Joint Dinner Meeting of the Planning Board and Montgomery County Board of Education

Carver Educational Services Center, Rockville, Maryland
850 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, Maryland 20850

This is an OPEN MEETING of these two Boards. This meeting will not be televised. The only way for the public to observe the meeting is to attend. 

Montgomery County Planning Board to Board of Education

Jerry Weast's "cream of the crap"

The 2011 MSA results show that Montgomery County Public Schools has without a doubt achieved mediocrity amongst its neighbors in Maryland.   

So much for the talk of World Class this or that.  Our elementary and middle schools have become, as our former superintendent says, "the Cream of the Crap".

Rank ordering the 24  school sytems in Maryland using the MSA scores released today by the State Department of Education

3rd Grade 11th of 24,  11th in 2010
4th Grade 17th of 24,  16th in 2010
5th Grade 12th of 24,  10th in 2010
6th Grade 14th of 24,  16th in 2010
7th Grade 11th of 24,  11th in 2010
8th Grade 12th of 24,  11th in 2010

3rd Grade 8th of 24,  7th in 2010
4th Grade 8th of 24,  9th in 2010
5th Grade 6th of 24,  8th in 2010
6th Grade 7th of 24,  6th in 2010
7th Grade 6th of 24,  6th in 2010
8th Grade 6th of 24,  6th in 2010

Last year when I shared these same rankings, MCPS responded that it is not fair to compare to other jurisdictions, some very small.  But I disagree.  It is the % of students achieving proficiency or better.  That takes size of the system out of the equation.  Furthermore, I'm comparing groups of students who are being educated under the same State standards and taking the same state wide assessment.  What could be more fair?

The data above also demonstrates that there has not been any appreciable net change in Montgomery County's ranking since last year.

The bottom line is that MCPS really is not doing very well at the elementary & middle school level.

Bob Astrove

State notes progress on MSAs, while city sees decreases

State notes progress on MSAs, while city sees decreases

MSA Scores Released - MCPS Identified for Improvement List

Montgomery County
(24 schools, 12%)
Title I
Account Status
Elementary schools
Burning Tree Elementary 04192011Focus Developing
Cannon Road Elementary 03102011Comprehensive Developing
Captain James E. Daly Elementary 01112008Comprehensive Developing
Galway Elementary 03132011Comprehensive Developing
Kemp Mill Elementary 08052011Title IComprehensive Developing
Mill Creek Towne Elementary 05562011Focus Developing
R Sargent Shriver Elementary 07792011Title IComprehensive Developing
South Lake Elementary 05642011Title IFocus Developing
Watkins Mill Elementary 05612011Title IComprehensive Developing
Middle schools
A. Mario Loiederman Middle 07872010Comprehensive Developing
Argyle Middle 08232010Comprehensive Developing
Benjamin Banneker Middle 03332007Comprehensive Developing
Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle 08182011Comprehensive Developing
Eastern Middle School 07752010Comprehensive Developing
Forest Oak Middle 02482006Focus Priority
Francis Scott Key Middle 03112011Comprehensive Developing
Gaithersburg Middle 05542007Focus Developing
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle 01072011Comprehensive Developing
Montgomery Village Middle School 05572010Comprehensive Developing
Neelsville Middle 01152007Comprehensive Priority
Newport Mill Middle 07922011Focus Developing
Ridgeview Middle 01052011Comprehensive Developing
Roberto W. Clemente Middle 01572010Comprehensive Developing
White Oak Middle 08112011Comprehensive Developing

High School list has not been released at this time.