Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Waiting for California's Superman:" Is Jerry Weast "Clark Kent In Waiting?"

Breaking News: Planning Board to Board of Ed "Secrecy does not serve community well"

Planning Board tells Board of Education that the Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville Park is not available as a school site.


The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the use of this site for a middle school as Superintendent Jerry Weast's number 1 choice when their meeting starts in two hours. 

BOE Site Selection

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Fending for ourselves when it comes to education"

Another statement from Frank Petersen outside the Coffield Community Center talking about the achievement gap, ineligibility rate and the lack of support for students in the BCC Cluster. Mr. Petersen makes a plea for community involvement and support.


Behind Mr. Petersen is the soccer field where Superintendent Jerry Weast proposes to build a middle school for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Cluster.




Filmed on location at the Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville Park in Silver Spring, Maryland. This park is located in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Take a look INSIDE the Coffield Community Center

Here's a real short video of the gymnasium at the Coffield Community Center. It's a busy place after school. But Superintendent Jerry Weast wants to turn this park site into a middle school. This very short video highlights what goes on inside the Coffield Community Center gym.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Message from Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville Park to Board & Jerry Weast

"Give us a chance, we can amaze you."



The fields where Superintendent Jerry Weast wants to build a middle school are shown in the background of this video. Note the high level of activity on these fields on a typical afternoon.

Stamford Advocate.com: Starr's departure "had an element of surprise" to it


Lyons said the news of Starr's departure "had an element of surprise" to it, though Pia said he was not surprised.
"I've been doing this for a long time, and superintendents are always searching for another job. It's the nature of being a superintendent, pretty much. I learned that early on," Pia said. "Something like this is really too good to pass up. It's an unbelievable opportunity."
Starr's new post will place him in charge of Maryland's largest public school district, which serves 144,064 students, about 10 times as many as are in Stamford's schools.
While there has been tension between Starr and members of the Board of Education in recent months, Pia said he doubts that played a significant part in Starr's decision.
"If this was a small opportunity, the board dynamics would be truer," Pia said. "But the idea that this is a huge opportunity . . . even if he was really happy here, . . . (as a) a young guy with a young family -- he'd be silly not to take such an opportunity."
Starr said Tuesday he has not actively searched for jobs in the past year, adding "that doesn't mean people haven't contacted me about other positions."
"You always keep your options open. I don't quite know what actively searching means, but Montgomery County is such an incredible opportunity. I wasn't desperate, that I would take any job that comes along," he said.

Read more: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/local/article/Starr-recommends-Hamilton-to-lead-schools-through-1353615.php#ixzz1KgG2cgft

Conservation Montgomery: Site Selection without Early Community Involvement is Flawed

Conservation Montgomery calls for the Board of Education to prevent the social injustice that would occur from building a school on the Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville Park
Conservation Montgomery reminds the Board that a logical place for a new middle school would be the site of the former Montgomery Hills Junior High School, just 5 minutes from the  Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville community.  Their full letter to the Board of Education is below:Conservation Montgomery

Stamford, The Details

Stamford School District

The "More" Child: Buh-Bye Jerry, Hello Josh


by SwitchedOnMom
As you can probably guess, I have absolutely zero sadness at the departure of Jerry Weast. Words cannot adequately capture the smarmy arrogance of the man.  I had one final chance to catch him in action at the March 28 Board of Education meeting.  An overflow crowd of parents representing  various interests  — including GTA’s Challenge Every Child campaign (do be sure to check out the online petition and read the 850 comments) — had turned out that evening.  In the midst of public testimony, which people were trying to listen to, Jerry strolled in to tell the gathered crowd that they should be sure to show up at the County Council budget meetings to support his budget. Lame.  Condescending.  I short, you won’t find me at the Jerry Farewell Lovefest. (www.WeastLegacy.com.  Really? So modest.)So it was with great interest that I awaited the announcement of the new MCPS superintendent.  This evening, with much drama, the announcement was made (pending Board Approval):  Joshua Starr, Superintendent from Stamford, Connecticut...

blog post CONTINUES HERE

Monday, April 25, 2011

Montgomery County chooses new schools chief | Lisa Gartner | Education | Washington Examiner

Montgomery County chooses new schools chief | Lisa Gartner | Education | Washington Examiner

...Joshua Starr is the superintendent in Stamford, Conn., a public school system with about 15,000 students, roughly a tenth the size of Montgomery County Public Schools...

...Starr said his Big Apple experience would help him bridge the gap from Stamford to Montgomery, the 16th-largest school system in the country, and noted that the two districts were similar in their diversity.
"The Stamford demographics are almost the same as the Montgomery County demographics," Starr said. "I think we have a few more Latinos, and you have a few more Asians."


Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/education/2011/04/montgomery-county-chooses-new-schools-chief#ixzz1Kaic3G6B

New Superintendent is a blogger

Last update was in 2007

MCPS Superintendent-elect Joshua Starr communicates with the public through "Josh's Blog", accessible at:

http://drstarrblog.blogspot.com/

Gazette: New Supe proposes cuts to special ed while dining at expensive steakhouse on taxpayer's dime!

Gazette: "On April 20, 2011, the Stamford Advocate's website reported that Starr expensed at $499 dinner for eight at Shula's steakhouse in New Orleans while on Stamford Public Schools business. Starr called the expense a reasonable one, at a time when 12 special education teachers were being eliminated from the school system's budget."
*************

I hope the "Community Committee" has an explanation! Or maybe when the rest of us get a chance to meet him, he can explain his views on fancy dinners at taxpayer expense.

Not again!

Another day, another violation of the Maryland Open Meetings Act by the Montgomery County Board of Education. 

This time it's in connection with the Superintendent search.

Oh dear, we had such hopes that the process was going to be transparent.  We were wrong yet again. 

The Board didn't even follow its own announced process.  Where is the list of community organizations that interviewed the candidates?

Maybe the Open Meetings Compliance Board can find out.

Let's hope that whoever the MoCo Board selects tonight after its secret process shows more leadership on transparency than Dr. Weast.

Redacted Version OMA Complaint

"Community Committee" Revealed!

No, no. Not yet. That would be too much information for the Montgomery County public to process.


The names of the 14 or 15 secretly selected individuals who interviewed the superintendent finalists after signing confidentiality agreements "will" be revealed when the Board of Education is good and ready. 


And it's not ready yet.


From the April 12, 2011, MCPS Press Release:

This month, after careful review and deliberation, the Board is selecting and interviewing a limited group of candidates. Following these interviews, the Board will identify up to three finalists and a Community Committee will interview those candidates. The Community Committee is a group of citizens drawn from a broad-based section of Montgomery County that represents students, post-secondary institutions, parents, multicultural and civic organizations, special needs advocates, employee unions, businesses, career and technology associations, non-profit organizations, and county agencies. The full list of participating organizations will be posted on the Board’s website.

(Go ahead, click the link. See if you can find the list of the hand picked secret "Community Committee" members. Keep clicking...)



Goodbye History

From the National Humanities Alliance.  President Obama, in his original FY12 Budget Proposal, released on February 14, proposes to eliminate Teaching American History (TAH) as an individually funded program, and instead consolidate it into a new authority called “Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education”, along with seven other programs emphasizing higher education partnerships and content-based activities.

The President’s Budget does not provide a FY 2012 allocation for Teaching American History or the consolidated programs. The new “Well-Rounded Education” authority would emphasize “accountability” and “flexibility” for state and local education agencies over current, field-specific opportunities.


The National Humanities Alliance urges Congress to provide continued funding, in FY 2011 and FY 2012, at the FY 2010 enacted level of $119 million for the Teaching American History grants program within the U.S. Department of Education, maintaining recent levels appropriated for TAH as a discretionary program line.


The Teaching American History grant program is a discretionary grant competition funded under Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The largest single source of federal funding for history education in the U.S., the goal of TAH is to support projects that raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American history. The program provides competitive awards to local educational agencies, and requires that LEAs agree to carry out the proposed activities “in partnership with one or more of the following: institutions of higher education, nonprofit history or humanities organizations, libraries, or museums.” TAH is administered by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement.

Update from the National Coalition for History: although on the chopping block for FY11, lobbying for this program was successful and the entire program was not eliminated completely.

The Teaching American History Grants program sustained a cut of $73 million (-61%) down from $119 million in FY ’10 to $46 million. While this is disheartening, throughout the budget process House Republicans had repeatedly targeted the program for elimination. The Administration as well had zeroed out TAH for FY ’11 and proposed consolidating history education in a new Well Rounded Education program where it would have competed for funding with arts, music, foreign languages, civics, economics and other subjects.
Please tell the President and your representatives in Congress not to cut history from our children's education.  Tell them to keep TAH in the FY11 and FY12 budgets.  Step up.

To write to Representative Chris Van Hollen, go here.
To write to Representative Donna Edwards go here.
To write to Senator Barbara Mikulski go here.
To write to Senator Ben Cardin go here.

Paula Bienenfeld
To write to President Obama go here.

Board seeking public that oppose Lyttonsville neighbors?

Is this how the MCPS Board of Education works? 


Residents surrounding a park site in the Lyttonsville area of Silver Spring have been actively opposing the conversion of their small neighborhood park in to a school site. Last Thursday around 200 people attended a Town Hall in the neighborhood to speak to the proposal.


The e-mail below is now circulating on PTA listservs. Is this really coming from the Board of Education? 


The Board of Education is actively pursuing citizens to oppose the advocacy of the Lyttonsville community? 


The Board of Education didn't give the Lyttonsville area advance notice that their park was to be considered as a school site, but is now actively seeking citizens to oppose the Lyttonsville  community?


_________________
This comes from one of our [MCCPTA] cluster coordinators:
The Board is interested in hearing from you, positive or negative, regarding the new middle school. As of late, the commentary they have been receiving thus far has been largely from people concerned about the proposed location. If you are in favor of the site, please take a moment to send along your comments. You can use the boe@mcpsmd.org email address, oftentimes those in favor do not send along their call of support--
Here is a link to the site selection document:http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/planning/index2.shtml

And the Finalist is...

No, no. Not this time. This was in 1999, the last time the Board of Education (including Patricia O'Neill) had to select a Superintendent. The Finalist was announced prior to the vote. The Finalist was Dr. Elfreda W. Massie, not Jerry Weast. Weast was the spare that they picked two months later when the Finalist didn't work out


Just a little bit of history...



Board of Education Identifies a Finalist for Superintendent of Schools as Selection Process Increases Community Involvement


April 30, 1999



The Board of Education of Montgomery County has narrowed its field of candidates for superintendent of schools and identified Dr. Elfreda W. Massie, deputy superintendent of the Baltimore County Public Schools, as a finalist who will meet with community, civic, government, business, parent, student, and education leaders next week in interviews designed to help the Board make its final selection and appointment.

"The meetings with leaders of key constituency groups are considered important steps in helping the Board of Education determine the best possible candidate to lead the Montgomery County Public Schools into the next century," said Mr. Reginald Felton, president of the Board of Education. The Board is planning to make its final decision in May.

The Board widened the selection process in order to allow major stakeholders an opportunity to meet a finalist for the position of superintendent in a series of small interview sessions designed to permit a frank and open exchange and dialogue. The interviews will be held Friday, May 7, as a continuation of the Board's selection proceedings.

The separate interviews will include leaders of cultural, ethnic and racial organizations; business and industry executives; community and civic leaders; county government elected officials; senior school system staff; parent organization leaders; student leaders; and presidents of the organizations representing employees of the school system.

In addition to the interviews, members of the Board of Education also are planning visits to Baltimore County to review Dr. Massie's work and discuss her candidacy with educational and community leaders there. Baltimore County is the state's fourth largest school district, with 160 schools and 105,000 students.

The Board identified Dr. Massie as a finalist after narrowing the list of possible candidates from among those who best matched a "leadership profile assessment" derived from public forums and a survey about the qualities necessary in the next superintendent of schools.

Board of Education: Mr. Reginald M. Felton, president, and Mrs. Patricia O'Neill, vice president. Members: Mr. Steve Abrams, Mr. Kermit V. Burnett, Mrs. Beatrice B. Gordon, Ms. Nancy J. King, Ms. Mona M. Signer and Mr. Geonard Butler, Jr., student member. Dr. Paul L. Vance, superintendent and secretary treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617

Beverly Farms Elementary School at Planning Board


Images show the plans for the forest around
Beverly Farms Elementary School and the
RETAINING WALLS planned for this site!








EXCERPTS OF PLANNING BOARD AGENDA FOR THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011
...


3  -  POTOMAC, Beverly Farms Elementary School Modernization  -  review 
Preliminary Forest Conservation Plan and Mandatory Referral for school 
modernization in R-90 Zone at 8501 Postoak Rd.
...
* Ex parte communication on these items is prohibited with any member of the 
Planning Board. Inquiries or communications will instead be redirected to the 
appropriate staff person.
__________________
Unless otherwise noted, public testimony allowed on individual items (except 
briefings and discussions).

Listen to live audio feed or view live video feed of Planning Board sessions 
over the internet with link on their website.  The Planning Board Viewer works 
best with use of Microsoft's Silverlight free plug-in.  Information on 
Silverlight (and link to free software download) available on this webpage:
http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/faq/#sys-req

To view entire Planning Board agenda, go to www.montgomeryplanningboard.org --in 
menu on left side of screen, click on "agenda".  The Board's agenda is now 
posted as an HTML document, which does not require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

Sign up online to testify on an item before the Planning Board, up to 10 days 
prior to the hearing, by going to http://www.montgomeryapps.org:80/planning_board/testify.asp 
, or call 301-495-4600 before 4:00 p.m. the day before the meeting.  On the day 
of the meeting, see the clerk in the auditorium to sign up.

NOTE--CHANGED PROCEDURES: Written comments must be received in the Chair's 
office at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing date (referencing the hearing 
date and item) to be reviewed by the Board and included in the official record 
of the hearing.  Written comments received within 24 hours before a hearing will 
be placed in the file, but will not be considered by the Board or included in 
the official record.  Copies of testimony presented orally or copies of 
correspondence will not be distributed at the hearing.

Staff reports for upcoming agenda items are posted online--ten days prior to 
meeting when Board will discuss--in PDF format, which requires Adobe Acrobat 
Reader to view.
_____________________
-Excerpts compiled and distributed by Jim Humphrey

Sunday, April 24, 2011

May Civic Fed Meeting: John McCarthy, State's Attorney, and Thomas Manger, Chief of Police

Please join us at the next Civic Fed meeting on Monday, May 9th

DATE: Monday, May 9, 2011

TIME: 7:45 p.m.
LOCATION: County Council Building - 1st Floor Auditorium, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville
For directions go here.

Program: Community Policing and Community Prosecution
Speakers: Thomas Manger, Chief, Montgomery County Police Department, and
John McCarthy, State's Attorney for Montgomery County

Paula Bienenfeld
Education Committee Chair, Montgomery County Civic Federation

Council to discuss MCPS legal action in closed session, again

EXCERPTS OF COUNTY COUNCIL AGENDA FOR TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 2011

9:00 a.m.  PROPOSED CLOSED SESSION to obtain legal advice. Topic: MCPS petition 
to State Board of Education re maintenance of effort level of funding

10:35 a.m.  CONSENT CALENDAR items include...
-  ACTION on Resolution to extend time until May 15, 2011 to consider collective 
bargaining agreements
-  ACTION on $2.2 million Special Appropriation to MCPS FY11 Capital Budget for 
relocatable classrooms (source: Current Revenue)

10:40 a.m.  ACTION - Appointment of Inspector General

10:45 a.m.  BRIEFING - Report of the Clarksburg Infrastructure Working Group

11:30 a.m.  BRIEFING - Report of the PEPCO Working Group

12:15 p.m.  RECESS

1:30 p.m.  PUBLIC HEARINGS on...
-  Intent to consider increasing FY12 General Fund tax rate above the Constant 
Yield Tax Rate (CYTR)
-  Resolution to set amount of Property Tax Credit for Income Tax Offset
-  Bill 9-11, Contracts and Procurement - Minority Owned Businesses - Amendments

1:45 p.m.  ADJOURN

7:30 p.m.  PUBLIC HEARINGS on...
-  Expedited Bill 10-11, Recordation Tax - Allocation of Revenue
-  Resolution to approve FY12 Transportation Fees, Charges, and Fares
-  Expedited Bill 11-11, Personnel - Retirement Plans - Contributions
______________
SELECTED COMMITTEE MEETINGS - Week of April 25 through 29
[NOTE: all committee sessions this week are on FY12 Operating Budget and Capital 
Amendments for departments and agencies under purview of each committee.]
-  4/25, 9:30 am, PS/PHED Comm.s on Park Police
-  4/25, 9:30 am, GO Comm. on collective bargaining agreements, and employee 
compensation and benefits for all agencies--will continue on 4/28 at 9:30 am 
(both sessions to be televised live on county cable tv and internet--see General 
Note below)
-  4/26, 2 pm, T&E Comm. items include FY12 Water Quality Protection and Solid 
Waste Service charges
-  4/27, 9:30 am, PHED Comm. on Recreation, Dept. of Permitting Services, and 
Economic Development
-  4/27, 2 pm, GO/HHS Comm.s items include bills re Human Rights Commission and 
Commission for Women (to be televised live)
-  4/28, 2 pm, T&E Comm. items include FY12 Transportation Fees, Charges and 
Fares, and Parking Lot Districts (to be televised live)
-  4/29, 2:30 pm, PHED Comm. on Housing Opportunities Commission, Dept. of 
Housing and Community Affairs, and Economic Development
________________
GENERAL NOTE: County Council sessions can be viewed over on County Cable 
television and via the internet (see instructions below for reaching that 
webpage).  Live Council sessions and archive tapes of past sessions can be 
viewed from the following webpage:
www.montgomerycountymd.gov/csltmpl.asp?url=/content/council/ondemand/index.asp

The new Council On-Demand Viewer requires Microsoft's Silverlight free plug-in.  
Information on Silverlight (and link to free software download) available on 
this webpage:
http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/faq/#sys-req

To view entire Council agenda, go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov and click 
on County Council (in menu on left side), then on Council homepage click on 
Current Agenda.

The Council agenda and committee packets are PDF files that require Adobe 
Acrobat Reader to view.
_____________________
-Excerpts compiled by Jim Humphrey

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Them That's Got: Leggett Crony Update

Thanks again to Washington Examiner report Brian Hughes for keeping us up to date on the latest example of how our tax dollars are spent.

Leggett appointee maintains active legal firm

Subin picks up six-figure paycheck from MontCo

A political ally of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett found the time to handle nearly 90 cases for his private law firm while collecting almost $160,000 annually in salary and benefits to head a commission that formally meets four times a year, records show.

Although Leggett's office is spending $158,464 on former County Councilman Michael Subin's compensation, which Leggett said reflects a heavy workload, the Rockville lawyer maintained a steady stream of legal cases since being appointed to the county post four years ago. As director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission, Subin is tasked with "coordinating communication" among law enforcement agencies.


But now Leggett is recommending a full-time job for Subin ?-- and roughly $195,000 in total compensation -- raising questions from some officials about how Subin can maintain a law firm while potentially collecting an even more lucrative salary.
And:
"It would be better if the county executive would show some leadership by spelling out a vision for what he wants this commission to accomplish and then assign the job to someone within his branch to carry it out," said Councilman Hans Riemer, D-at large. "I don't see a compelling argument."

A council panel, including Council President Valerie Ervin, signed off on expanding Subin's role to include zoning and planning hearings. However, approval from the full council remains in question.

"Rather than applaud us for saving money, there's people with an ax to grind with him," Leggett said.
Read the full story at the Washington Examiner here.

Next Montgomery schools superintendent to be announced Monday


Board to Vote on Report with "error"

"There was one error..." in the BCC Middle School site selection report according to MCPS administrator Janice Turpin. See video statement below. 


One big error. 


The error is so big that it changes the buildable parcel of the site from a stated 17.1 acres to about 6.35 acres.


That would make this the smallest middle school site in the entire county.  


Yet, this is the site that Superintendent Jerry Weast recommends the Board of Education use to build a new middle school.


The yellow highlight in the image shows the parcel of this site that would be used to hold a middle school (driveway, bus drop off and parking included) AND the Coffield Community Center (shown in black with the letter "C"). 









Friday, April 22, 2011

To Weast & Board: "Why isn't something being done about bridging achievement gap amongst our kids?"

At the April 21, 2011, Town Hall Meeting at the Coffield Community Center in the Lyttonsville neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland, Mr. Frank Petersen made the following statement.



 Silver Spring, Maryland is in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Bradford, "We have no real willingness to give up parkland in a community such as this"

That was the statement made by Montgomery County Parks Director Mary Bradford at the Thursday, April 21st Town Hall meeting held at the Coffield Community Center in Lyttonsville/Silver Spring.  


This is the park site that Superintendent Jerry Weast has recommended for the location of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Cluster Middle School #2. 


The Town Hall meeting drew over 170 citizens to speak to the Superintendent's plan to build a middle school on this park site.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

MCPS to hijack community meeting?

Looks that way.


What started out as a community meeting to discuss MCPS' surprise plan to turn a park that includes dedicated Maryland Open Space land into a middle school has become a MCPS presentation.


The 6.65 acre Maryland Open Space land parcel at this park is shown in the yellow in the image. 


In the light gray to the left of the soccer field is a community building, the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Center.  The community building sits on a 6.35 acre parcel. That is where MCPS now says they will build an entire middle school, leaving the community center in place. Imagine a MCPS middle school the size of a soccer field...sharing a 6.35 parcel with a community center. 



Gazette: Some residents question proposed site for new middle school

School sytem official to attend community meeting

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"THEY ARE TAKING OUR PARK AWAY!!!"

Here is the announcement of an emergency meeting to be held in the Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville Park community in response to the surprise decision of a secret site selection "committee" of the Board of Education to turn their neighborhood park into a middle school.  


Questions: Why was the process of selecting this site conducted through secret meetings? Aren't these meetings to discuss the use of public land by a public school system? Why are PTA's participating on secret committees? Why is this a surprise to this community? 




Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Park is Small Oasis for Historic Minority and Low Income Community

Save Our Park, Preserve Our Community Coalition
For Immediate Release
April 18, 2011
Contact: Susan Buchanan

New Bethesda-Chevy Chase Cluster Middle School to
Displace Silver Spring Neighborhood Park

Park is Small Oasis for Historic Minority and Low Income Community

COMMUNITY MEETING THIS THURSDAY
An emergency Town Hall has been scheduled for Thursday, April 21 at 7 pm, hosted by the surrounding neighborhood associations. Reporters are invited and encouraged to attend. Coalition members will be available for interviews before and after the meeting outside the door of the meeting room.
Location: Coffield Community Center, 2nd Floor, 2450 Lyttonsville Road, Silver Spring, Md, 20910.


Silver Spring, Md. – On April 28, the Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) will vote whether to approve Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Park in Silver Spring, Md., as the site of a new middle school for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster. Currently, students who matriculate into Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School attend Westland Middle School in Bethesda, Md.

At the request of Superintendent Jerry Weast, a Site Selection Advisory Committee, exclusive of representation from the Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville community, worked in secrecy to evaluate 10 potential sites for the new school. Without consideration of impacts to the local community and with little analysis, the committee selected Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Park and forwarded its recommendation to the BOE for consideration. Montgomery County Public Schools released the committee's report last week, only after pressure from the community.The park is an integrated part of long-term planning for this historic minority and working-class neighborhood, once owned by Samuel Lytton, a freed slave and having been part of the Underground Railroad. Montgomery County received State funding under the Maryland Open Spaces Program in 2000 to acquire land for the park. It provides a much-needed environmental offset for the area, which is bordered by traffic congestion on East-West Highway, a large industrial park, the county bus depot and the Walter Reed Annex. The planned purple line will bring yet more development, with a maintenance depot and station directly across from the park. Amid all this development, it will be devastating to the community to lose its only green space to a middle school.

The site selection process was deeply flawed, and the final report omits key data the Board of Education would need to make an educated decision on the 28th. More thoughtful analysis shows that this site in fact meets few if any of the required criteria for a suitable school location (fact sheet shown below). The advisory committee inconsistently applied site selection criteria to produce the selection of Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Park as the recommended site. Also, the communities bordering the park were left out of the site selection process. Representatives of several towns and municipalities in Bethesda and Chevy Chase were invited to participate in the process, but no one from the town of Silver Spring was invited.
A coalition of concerned residents in the Silver Spring neighborhoods surrounding the park are calling on the BOE to reject the recommendation of the Site Selection Advisory Committee, to re-evaluate candidate sites fairly with consistent application of the stated selection criteria, to include community impact as an important criterion for site selection, and to move forward with transparency and community engagement.

Note: Because the community is divided on the issue of the middle school, with most residents on the fence pending further details from Montgomery County Public Schools, the neighborhood associations are not taking a position. The "Save Our Park, Preserve Our Community" coalition is a large and growing group of community residents advocating to build the new middle school in a more suitable location after more thorough and thoughtful analysis and discussion. 
### 
Site Selection Report:  http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/planning/pdf/BCC_MS2_SiteSelectionFinalReport.pdf 
History of Lyttonsville as Historically Black Community (click through the links): http://silverspringspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/03/lyttonsville-living-history-hidden-in.html

 Save Our Park, Preserve Our Community Coalition

Monday, April 18, 2011

Council panel votes to keep Leggett pal in job | Hayley Peterson | Maryland | Washington Examiner

Council panel votes to keep Leggett pal in job | Hayley Peterson | Maryland | Washington Examiner

New Frederick County Schools superintendent known for hands-on approach - The Frederick News-Post Online

New Frederick County Schools superintendent known for hands-on approach - The Frederick News-Post Online

APNewsBreak: Emanuel picks Rochester schools chief to head Chicago's schools :: The Republic

APNewsBreak: Emanuel picks Rochester schools chief to head Chicago's schools :: The Republic

"As is often the case, MCPS has done a terrible job explaining the process..."

Rock Creek Forest PTA blog:  New Middle School Site Selection Released
Neighbors have been very surprised to find out that the parkland they have grown accostomed to, and indeed purchased their homes for, may be in jeopardy. As is often the case, MCPS has done a terrible job explaining the process and has left these neighbors feeling like this recommendation is a done deal and the true process was hidden away... 
...However, I would like to see the Board of Education delay this vote and send the planning office out to meet with the community to explicitly explain the process of site selection and the process for feasibility studies going forward... 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Washington Post Editorial: Charter School Road Block

The Washington Post:  Localities have too much power to deny charter school applications

Constitution guarantees a free public education

SIGNONSANDIEGO:  Fees for track meets and uniforms to be refunded

BY ASHLY MCGLONE

— About 100 track and field athletes at Eastlake High School were charged for uniforms, spirit gear and participation in track meets — fees that will be refunded under the law.The state Constitution guarantees free public schools, and the state Supreme Court has ruled that extracurricular activities such as sports and band are included.
The charges came to light when Eastlake resident Stewart Payne spoke about the fees at the March 14 meeting of the Sweetwater Union High School District.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"How do you know the juice is worth the squeeze?"

"Talking Tennessee" from Jerry Weast:

Ervin: "We all know the MCPS budget is full of money"

Gazette:  Montgomery council president tells school system to ‘put up or shut up' over police program
Board of Education member suggests splitting cost of officers with county
By Andrew Ujifusa | Staff Writer
Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring and Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park stressed that the school system's budget for 2012 was full of employee benefits and other non-classroom costs that could be reduced to make room for the SROs. Ervin said it was time for school officials to "put up or shut up."
"We all know the MCPS budget is full of money," Ervin said.

Gazette Editorial: Following criticism, school board should examine impartiality of policies

Gazette: A fair shot for charter schools
With her pull-no-punches critique of the county Board of Education's second rejection of a charter school application, board member Laura Berthiaume has distinguished herself as an independent thinker who is willing to take a principled stand for fairness and proactive approaches to learning.
Last month, the school board rejected the applications of two charter schools, including Global Garden, a proposed 420-student kindergarten through eighth grade International Baccalaureate school in the Kensington area. The 6-2 vote against Global Garden (member Michael Durso was the other supporting vote) came in response to a ruling from the state Board of Education that required the county to reconsider its 2010 rejection of Global Garden.
In prepared comments presented to the board the night it turned away Global Garden for the second time, Berthiaume criticized not only this decision, but also what she sees as a pervasive problem with the county's inherent bias against charter schools...

Friday, April 15, 2011

March 28, 2011 Board of Education Meeting - Budget Choices

BCC Site Selection Report Finally Released to Public

Bethesda-Chevy Chase (BCC) Middle School Site Selection Report

Four finalists picked in the sunshine state

Another doomed Superintendent search...they don't know about doing it the super secret way. In fact, the Montgomery County patented-world-class-super-secret superintendent search is so secret our Board of Education doesn't even have to meet to select a superintendent! Check out the Board of Education's calendar, no meetings for weeks!  


Put on your sunglasses and read about the sunshine in this Florida school system's superintendent selection process.


news-press.com: Four finalists picked for Collier County [Florida] superintendent job
The Collier County School Board this afternoon narrowed the pool from 25 applicants to four, including Michele LaBute, current Collier chief operational officer, and Kamela Patton, 47, regional administrative director for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
...
The four finalists will be interviewed by the board Monday — two at 9 a.m. and two at 2 p.m. at the district offices at 5775 Osceola Trail in Naples. The interviews will be televised at 4 p.m. Monday and again at 8 a.m. Tuesday on the Education Channel, Comcast 99, and online at collierschools.com.
The public is invited to meet the candidates at a reception at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the district offices. A public forum will be televised live at 6:30 p.m...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Habemus Papam!

Well, not quite.  However based on our research, we have found three people that could be new superintendent candidates: Heath Morrison, Frank Stetson, and Gregory Thornton.

The secret 'Community Committee' has it appears almost or has completed their interviews.

Paula Bienenfeld
Education Committee Chair, Montgomery County Civic Federation

WTOP: Ervin: Schools budget unfair to other Montgomery workers


...Ervin also talked about what she said is an imbalance in the county budget, skewed toward public schools. Other public departments' budgets are being slashed, she said, leading to cuts in libraries, public safety and parks and recreation.
However, the school system, which employs two thirds of county employees, has a steadily increasing budget, Ervin said...

From the interview:
Council President Valerie Ervin,
"I think what's happening in Montgomery County is that the real truth about the budget out the mouths of Jerry Weast and the school board is actually wrong.   
The proposed budget for Montgomery County Public Schools has not been cut.  As a matter of fact, what's happening here is that Jerry Weast is really causing a lot of hysteria among parents in the County system that there are going to be these draconian cuts made. And the fact of the matter is that the budget that Ike Leggett has proposed to the County Council is 3.5% over what it was last year."  

Justify My...Salary

Tonight two union bosses – one MCPS, one county - will be at the Taxpayers' League meeting to answer questions.

One of the questions from the Taxpayers' League includes this information:
Q8. MCPS teachers have a system of 20-step increases within each salary grade, all of which are automatic. The current system of step increases has resulted in the highest pay going towards athletic instructors...


As a personal point of interest, do taxpayers - which includes parents - in general believe all teachers should be paid the same?

To open up the discussion on this question, data have been gathered from the two sources below. This is just a small sampling of Elementary School (ES) Physical Education (PE) teachers' salaries; no Middle School PE teachers or High School PE teachers have been included. And this does not include all the ES physical education teachers who make over $75K or even over $100K.

Comparison of 2006 and 2010 Salaries: MCPS Elementary School PE Teachers

Listed as: initials of PE teacher @ initials of elementary school # of tenured years (from 2010 Gazette source).

SL @ BTES Bethesda 11.83 yrs
2006 - $ 91,195
2010 - $101,354
Increased $10,159 over 4 yr = 11.1%

DH @ LBES Clarksburg 13.83 yr
2006 - $88,960
2010 -$103,354
Increased $14,394 over 4 yr = 16.1%

KA @ RCVES Rockville 16.83 yrs
2006 - $78,665
2010 - $95,535
Increased $16,870 over 4 yr = 21.4%

RB @ DCDES Silver Spring 17.83 yrs
2006 - $81,411
2010 - $101,354
Increased $19,943 over 4 yr = 24.5%

DM @ CES Silver Spring 20.83 yrs
2006 - $92,462
2010 - $101,095
Increased $8,633 over 4 yr = 9.3%

DS @ DES Gaithersburg 21.83 yr
2006 - $88,960
2010 - $103,634
Increased $14,674 over 4 yr = 16.5%

CW @ RMES Germantown 28.83 yrs
2006 - $93,247
2010 - $105,134
Increased $11,887 over 4 yr = 12.7%

AB @ GES Brookville 30.42 yrs
2006 - $93,247
2010 - $103,634
Increased $10,387 over 4 yr = 11.1%

TP @ CCES Chevy Chase 31.83 yrs
2006 - $90,962
2010 - $101,095
Increased $10,133 over 4 yrs = 11.1%

The average MCPS teacher salary – the highest in the state – is $75,882

The median MCPS teacher salary is $75,167

This comparison of current salaries for elementary school physical education teachers and their salaries from 4 yr ago is food for thought - something that should be discussed during these tough fiscal times.

As the Black Eyed Peas sing, "Let's get it staaaarrr-ted..."

Sources:
for 2006 salaries - Examiner MCPS Partial Salary Database
for 2010 salaries - Gazette What They Earn [updated link 12/1/11]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hot off the Presses - The Artificial Turf Report

The report that was due by December 2010, on artificial turf fields in Montgomery County was released today, April 13, 2011.  The report had been requested by a County Council committee.


The report seems to leave out three important pieces of information that are now known to the public. (If you find this information in the report, please let us know!)


1) Montgomery County and MCPS have a no-bid, exclusive deal with just one artificial turf supplier: FieldTurf Tarkett.


2) FieldTurf Tarkett is now suing their supplier for providing them with defective materials. 


3) MCPS must buy 3  fields within 3 years from FieldTurf in order secure the price paid for the first two fields. 


Wonder how this report would change if artificial turf field procurements in Montgomery County were put out for COMPETITIVE BIDS?

Artificial Benefits and Issues

P.S. Why no MCPS staff participation in this report?  We had to pay a CONSULTANT to sit on this committee for 10 months? Was that cost factored into this report? 

WTOP: Montgomery Co. to have 3 finalists for schools chief by May

WASHINGTON -- It will be down to three candidates by the end of the month in the Montgomery County Public Schools' search for a new superintendent, before the community gets a chance to weigh in.  
The Board of Education reviewed 30 applications from candidates in 15 different states, according to a schools release, 18 of whom are current superintendents. Only three will make it through a board selection, to be presented before a Community Committee who will interview those candidates.
The board will then conduct second interviews with these applicants and, after consulting the Community Committee, will identify their top choice.
The new superintendent is expected to begin work in July, 2011.
A local parents group, the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County, has complained about a lack of transparancy in the process.
           REPORT CONTINUES HERE.