Monday, January 30, 2012

Pearson's payment to MCPS reduced after trip to Australia

The Pearson-Weast Timeline has been updated to show that after Superintendent Jerry Weast took a Pearson Foundation sponsored trip to Australia, he returned to Montgomery County and quietly reduced the Pearson Education, Inc. contracted payment to MCPS by $3.25 million. 

Even Gazette didn't know Pearson deal had changed

In a previous post we released a document purported to be an "amendment" to the Board of Education-Pearson Education, Inc. contract of June 8, 2010.  That document showed that on November 4, 2010 the Pearson payment to MCPS had been cut from $4.5 million to $1.25 million.

But the beauty of doing things behind closed doors, without Board of Education approval, and without public disclosure is that no one ever realizes what is actually going on! Not even the media.

And so, on January 18, 2012, when the Gazette newspaper ran an article about Superintendent Jerry Weast taking a trip to Australia in the summer of 2010 courtesy of the Pearson Foundation, they repeated the $4.5 million payment figure as if it was fact. 

Now we know that after Superintendent Weast took the Pearson Foundation trip to Australia he came back and cut a new deal with Pearson Education, Inc. 

Exclusive: Weast cut $3.25 million from Pearson deal without Board vote

Why did Superintendent Weast do that? 
Because the cash was "no longer necessary". (See page Circle 5 of Council packet at link.)

Remember June 8, 2010 when the Montgomery County Board of Education voted to approve a surprise contract with Pearson Education, Inc. for the sale of MCPS curriculum?  That contract specified that Pearson would be paying $4.5 million in upfront curriculum development costs.  Remember how immediately after the Board voted to approve the Pearson contract they hired a whole team of high priced administrators to write the curriculum for Pearson Education, Inc.?

In May of 2011, this blog reported that it appeared that the terms of the Pearson deal had changed. We now have the documentation to show that the $4.5 million in development funds that were part of the June 8, 2010 contract were reduced to $1.25 million by Superintendent Jerry Weast on November 4, 2010.  

Below is the document that Superintendent Weast signed without a public Board of Education vote, that purports to "amend" the June 8, 2010 contract and reduce Pearson's development fund payment from $4.5 million to $1.25 million.  

Can a Superintendent simply "amend" a contract that has been approved by the Board of Education?  Where is the MCPS Press Release announcing this "exciting" change to the original contract? 

Didn't Superintendent Weast say that we needed the Pearson contract because "we are broke?" 

Here is the section of the Pearson-Montgomery County Board of Education contract that has been changed:
A. Contribution Toward Development Costs   
Subject to the Program Development Plan, Publisher shall contribute to the development costs by paying to MCPS the sum of $4,500,000 [$1,250,000]United States Dollars in the aggregate ("Development Funds"), and shall pay to MCPS, as the first installment of the Development Funds, the sum of $625,000 United States Dollars within thirty (30) days of the date hereof. The schedule of the payment of the remainder of the Development Funds shall be detailed in the Program Development Plan, and shall be payable in installments on a quarterly basis based on completion of specified milestones . As further detailed in the Program Development Plan, one-half of the aggregate Development Funds payable to MCPS shall be considered an advance on royalties (the "Advance") and recoupable by Publisher as set forth in Section 8E below.
Below is the letter from Superintendent Jerry Weast to the President of Pearson, Inc. purporting to reduce the Pearson payment to MCPS from $4.5 million to $1.25 million. 
Amended Pearson Contract

Sunday, January 29, 2012

8 Civil Rights, Disability, Business, and Education Organizations Oppose House ESEA Proposal “The draft bill is not an update; it is a rollback” of ESEA

Washington, D.C. – Today, 38 organizations – representing a broad cross-section of civil rights, business, disability, and education organizations – publicly released a letter sent yesterday to House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline “firmly opposing” a proposal to rewrite Title I and other parts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Many of these organizations also joined together in November 2011 in declining to support the Harkin-Enzi bill in the Senate.
The organizations oppose the draft Student Success Act because “it abandons accountability for the achievement and learning gains of subgroups of disadvantaged students who for generations have been harmed by low academic expectations. The draft also eliminates performance targets, removes parameters regarding the use of federal funds to help improve struggling schools, does not address key disparities in opportunity such as access to high-quality college preparatory curricula, restricts the federal government from protecting underprivileged students, and fails to advance the current movement toward college- and career-ready standards.”
The full letter and list of signers are below:

ReelAbilities Film Festival Coming Up

A groundbreaking film festival presented for the first time in the Greater Washington area by the Washington DCJCC, JCC of Greater Washington and JCC of Northern Virginia

REELAbilities is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities from a variety of communities. Award-winning films are accompanied by discussion and other engaging programs, which bring together the community to explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

Complete schedule, trailers and tickets here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Update on Farquhar land 'swap' property

This past week I spoke with a staff member of the Montgomery County Planning Department to get an update on the Pulte property which may be the subject of the ‘land swap’ for construction of the new Farquhar Middle School. The Planning Department has received the plats for the development from the engineer for Pulte, the developers and owners of the property. Staff reviewed the plats and determined that the plats do comply with the Preliminary Plan and with the Site Plan. This is not a recordation of the plats; those have to be approved by the Director of the Department of Permitting Services (DPS). That process can take up to 3-4 weeks.

The Planning Board is scheduled to hear the staff report on Thursday, February 9th, 2012. The item is on the Consent Agenda, which means it will be part of a group of items the Planning Board will hear and vote on. Usually there is no discussion with Consent Agenda items.

The Planning Board agenda for February 9th is here. The staff report is also up on the Planning Board website, you can read it here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Plastic Grass More Important Than Classrooms

Alcohol tax funds that were to benefit adults with developmental disabilities were diverted by the legislature to projects such as plastic football fields in Howard County.  

"I just want to make sure you that you all think that the two turf fields are priority projects … more important than classrooms," Franchot said.
Kopp noted that "others have wondered offhand about the turf fields."
School system gets final go-ahead for turf fields

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Middle School Siting Could Pit MCPS Against Parks

Patch:  The two departments disagree on the use of open space.

Open Letter to Starr, County Council ED Committee

Dear Dr. Starr and Ms. Ervin:

At the County Council hearing on the OLO Autism report the other day, the conversation veered off into special education dispute resolution. Dr. Starr stated, repeating an earlier theme, that he doesn't want to hear anecdotes, but that he wants Data and Facts.

Unfortunately, the special education hearing decisions that are posted on the MSDE website are so heavily redacted (even school names are redacted) that it is impossible for advocates to know which schools and programs are even the subject of dispute.

Nevertheless, the current superintendent has responsiblity for the actions that have occurred since
he arrived on the scene in July. Dr. Starr's statement that there were "only" 120 dispute resolution requests last year doesn't include the 27 state complaints from FY 2011, which is the "poor man's" method of dispute resolution since MCPS embarked on its "scorched earth" special education dispute resolution
policy during the Weast years.

I look forward to the Council's upcoming discussion on special education dispute resolution. You may not realize that a budget review committee specifically looked at this issue many years ago, and found that MCPS utilized special education dispute resolution as a "cost containment" method. In addition, I will be happy to provide the Council with a copy of their "outside counsel" contract for special education legal services, which provides that outside counsel be paid $6,000 a day per day of litigation. Even in the Washington DC area, with its stable of high-priced lawyers, I do not know any other litigators that command $6,000 a day for working for a public, governmental entity.


Lyda Astrove

QO Combines With 3 Schools to Form Unique Hockey Team

...“I think my first concern when I took over this team three years ago was [kids from] four schools that are in the same county but not necessarily know one another,” Slade said. “How are they going to gel? Are their school rivalries within the team?”
Luckily there have been no such issues, Slade said, but cohesion is a concern on a yearly basis.
What the coach hopes helps that issue is a fun and fair environment he creates for the team.
“Any person [from QO, Poolesville, Northwest, or Seneca Valley] that would like to play hockey can come out,” Slade said. “We take everyone, everyone plays regardless of skill.”
Among those players is a special needs student from QO, who Slade said “is very excited to play with us.”...

Why Starr Re-Started the BCC Middle School Site Selection

On November 2, 2011, Superintendent Joshua Starr recommended that the BCC Middle School Site Selection process be re-started

The Board of Education voted November 17, 2011 to accept Starr's recommendation. 

Therefore, on January 24, 2012, the Maryland State Board of Education declared the Appeal that had been filed concerning the BCC MS Site Selection process to be moot.

Case closed. Unfavorable opinion from State Board avoided.

Rock Creek Hills.or12-01

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

657 Homeless Students in Montgomery County

Thanks to The Baltimore Sun for investigating the number of homeless students in the state of Maryland and passing along the Montgomery County information to the Parents' Coalition.

In 2011, there were 657 students in Montgomery County that were classified as homeless.  

In 2005, there were 475 students in Montgomery County that were classified as homeless. 

In 2011, Montgomery County had the 6th highest number of homeless students in the state of Maryland out of 24 counties. At the top of the list was Prince George's County, then Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Wicomico County, Anne Arundel County and then Montgomery County.

State's student homeless population doubles

Baltimore Sun:  State's student homeless population doubles
...The largest increases in homeless populations are notable for where they are occurring: in the suburban rings around cities. Anne Arundel County has seen a 231 percent increase in homeless students since 2005, Baltimore County a 140 percent increase and Howard County a 150 percent increase. The increase in Baltimore City, which still has the largest number of homeless students, was 75 percent...

State wants to curb student suspensions

State wants to curb student suspensions
...The board wants to "get everybody to focus on the fact that this is part of our educational mission" and that "we are clear that every kid counts," DeGraffenreidt said. 
In addition to reducing suspensions, the board is proposing to eliminate expulsions except in the case of students who have a firearm.
Eight percent of students in the state were suspended last school year, DeGraffenreidt said, and half the suspensions were for nonviolent offenses, such as disrespect or defacing school property. Minority and special education students are far more likely to be suspended than their peers. Board members believe there is a link between the high suspension rate for those groups and low achievement.
"In disproportionate numbers, the very students who are lagging behind are those who are being suspended," DeGraffenreidt said...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ED Committee Reviews OLO Autism Report

GAZETTE: Tuesday January 24, 2012 by Andrew Ujifusa, Staff Writer

"As the number of Montgomery students diagnosed with autism has increased by more than sixfold over the past decade, educators are grappling with the best ways to teach them and satisfy concerned parents.

Special education officials reported successes in educating the roughly 1,650 students on the autism spectrum last year, but admitted to the Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee on Monday that the way principals and teachers work with those students and their parents varies among schools, a problem that needed to be corrected.

A Westbrook Elementary School parent who addressed the committee, Julie Reiley, said she had encountered “great providers” for her child with autism, but also said she did not think schools consistently collaborated with parents in a positive way, and that the services originally promised in special education meetings were not always delivered, at least initially.

“Parents too often don’t feel like they’re being heard,” Reiley said."

To read the complete Gazette article, click HERE.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Last Spring's Shell Game (or: Hiding Dollars from the County Council)

Finding 4: Council staff was not provided updated information regarding projected health benefit costs at the time the final Council decision on the MCPS appropriation was made.
Up to date information related to the estimated costs of health benefits was important to the BOE's and the Council's decisions regarding the funding required for the MCPS contribution for employee health benefits. We determined that, at the time Council made its decision regarding appropriations for MCPS, the Council staff had only the operating budget request documents explained above and the Monthly Financial Reports available for analysis. Information regarding the downwardly revised estimates of health benefits costs could not have been gleaned from the Monthly Financial Reports and was not available in any other document provided to Council staff prior to the time information was presented to the Council Education Committee for review and consideration or prior to May 26, 2011, when the Council voted on the MCPS appropriation.

Page 13, OIG report

Patch: A Fascinating Summary of MCPS Failures

For more than a decade now, Montgomery County Public Schools has issued a "Call to Action" annual report. The report origins go back to the early years of Superintendent Jerry Weast, who retired last year...
 Article continues at link:

Surprise! There's a cell tower in your backyard.

How do cell phone towers (telecommunications transmission facilities) spring up in Montgomery County without any notification to neighbors?  
This topic was the subject of the January 9, 2012, Montgomery County Civic Federation meeting.  
Below is the video of the presentation by the panel.  The three presenters were:

Dan Abeyta, FCC Assistant Chief
Susan Present, Citizen and Community Organizer, Hillandale, Silver Spring
Bob Hunnicutt, Tower Coordinator, Columbia Telecommunications (Consultant for Montgomery County)

Durso: " that we do a lot in secret..."

“I think sometimes the perception of the larger community out there is that we do a lot in secret or that we’re just waiting around to pounce on any ballparks we can take,” he said. “And that’s simply not true.”

Gazette:  Montgomery school system may offer groups more input on where to build

Friday, January 20, 2012

Poolesville HS Students Design Newspaper Packaging Device

Poolesville HS students design newspaper packaging device to help employees with disabilities become more efficient and independent with newspaper packaging!

Gazette: Rice Questions MCPS Black Male Graduation Rate

Gazette: Friday, January 20, 2011 by Andrew Ujifusa, Staff Writer


Montgomery County Council member Craig L. Rice wants answers from the school board about why black male students are still lagging behind their peers when it comes to academic performance.

At a lunch meeting Tuesday between the council and board, Rice, who is black, asked why more has not been done to address the problem.

Board Vice President Christopher S. Barclay (D-Dist. 4) of Takoma Park, who is also black, responded by saying that he is focused on the black male graduation rate, which in 2010 was 73.6 percent, according to state data, compared to the school system’s overall 86.2 percent graduation rate. White males, by contrast, graduated at a 92.7 percent rate, but Hispanic males fared worst among male students at 69.1 percent.

Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown appeared to brush this off and reiterated his concern by saying, “We’re not doing anything.”


To read the complete article in the Gazette, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Video Exclusive: Council & Board Lunch Meeting

The is the only audio or video that is available to the public of the January 17, 2012 lunch meeting between the Montgomery County Council and the Montgomery County Board of Education.  The recording begins a few minutes into the meeting as the attendees finish the buffet of sandwiches, sodas and desserts.  

Topics include Superintendent Joshua Starr telling the Council what works in school reform, Councilmember  Nancy Floreen on school size, Councilmember Valerie Ervin on food for children, Councilmember Marc Elrich on education fads, Board of Ed member Judy Docca on being "slapped around" by "other administration", also Docca on how Maryland is #1 because of MCPS (don't tell the other counties), and Councilmember Craig Rice on the achievement gap (bet you thought the gap was closed didn't you).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Leggett plans cut in school construction funding | Washington Examiner

Leggett's $4.21 billion capital improvement program proposal offers $1.36 billion to Montgomery County Public Schools, a 3 percent cut from two years ago

and 9 percent less than the $1.49 billion that Superintendent Joshua Starr requested.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Berliner reveals that Leggett made behind closed door "commitment" for public school land

Brickyard Road Press Rel 1-17-12

Ethics Chat at Board meeting

It's only a Board of Education Committee meeting.
And the meeting is off-camera with very limited notes.

But if you can show up and sit in on this little chat, it is an Open Meeting with 4 Board members in attendance! Lots of interesting topics, including ethics!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Policy Jan 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Board and Council Lunch Tuesday!

Look what's on the Montgomery County Council Agenda again! Another one of those fun Montgomery County Council and Board of Education off-camera/no minutes joint lunches.

Odd, only the Council discloses these Open Meetings on their public Agenda.
No such transparency for the Board of Education.

Lunch is Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 12:15 PM at the Montgomery County Council office building on the 6th floor. 
Drop by for lunch! It's an Open Meeting of these two public bodies and you're buying! 

Update on Farquhar "Land Swap"

Parents Coalition has learned that the “swap’ property is still owned by Pulte, the land developer of the proposed subdivision.   While the property is owned by Pulte, the title change could occur as late as two years after the subdivision plan has been approved; or within a month or two from now.  Grading and site preparation for the new residential construction has already begun, however, no actual construction can occur until the plats are recorded.

Regarding the actual MCPS/M-NCPPC (Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission) swap, both parties are meeting now to work out the terms and conditions.  According to Parks staff, MCPS has agreed to pay for the demolition of the existing school building; M-NCPPC also expects MCPS to pay for demolition of the extra parking lot areas, which M-NCPPC will not want on the public park.  However, they now plan to retain the existing ball fields, which Parks would want in a public park.  The exchange would be ‘like for like’ including MCPS adding appropriate topsoil and seed mixture on the proposed swap property; and MCPS would be required to remove all of the demolished material.  That is, MCPS would not be allowed to demolish, leave the debris, and bulldoze over it to use as subsurface of the park property.  All the demolished material would be removed.

A stream buffer will be in place and of course MCPS cannot do anything within the stream buffer.

Once the terms and conditions are worked out, Parks staff will bring them to the Planning Board for discussion and approval or changes or denial.  The terms and conditions must also be approved by the entire M-NCPPC, not just our county Planning Board.

While the terms and conditions meetings are now taking place at the staff level, I am curious as to whether anyone in the neighborhood has been attending these meetings.  These meetings of course are open to anyone; anyone can attend.  Have you attended?  Comments here please!

Starr on Recess as Punishment: "We don't have a Policy"

Superintendent Joshua Starr confirming that MCPS does not have a recess policy, and thus when MCPS staff filled out the application for a $66,000 award from the US Department of Agriculture the answer to the question about recess should have been NO. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Councilmember Reimer at Northeast Consortium Cluster Meeting

Northeast Consortium Clusters Meeting
January 18, 2012
Cresthaven Elementary School
1234 Cresthaven Drive, Silver Spring, 20903
7:30 pm
Note: All members of the Northeast Consortium Community are welcome to attend!
7:30 Welcome, Introductions and NEC comments - Larry Edmonds, Paint Branch Cluster Coordinator
Update on Operating Budget Testimony
The Board of Education operating budget hearings were conducted on Wednesday, January 11 and Wednesday, January 18, 2012.  The Cluster Coordinators testified before the Board of Education regarding the operating budget needs of our schools. 
Nominees for Cluster Coordinators and Area Vice President for 2012-2013                                
7:45 Principal’s notes - Cresthaven ES Principal, Sherri Gorden
7:55 Curriculum 2.0 - Community Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez & Marty Creel Director, Enriched and Innovative Programs
8:30 Ask your County Councilmember - At-large Councilmember Hans Reimer
Adjourn no later than 9:00 pm
Next NEC meeting: March 21, 2012
Location to be announced
Also on the calendar:
Board of Education meeting with the Springbrook Cluster – February 9, 2012
Board of Education meeting with the Blake Cluster – March 8, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New partnership will team San Rafael school and business leaders - Marin Independent Journal

New partnership will team San Rafael school and business leaders - Marin Independent Journal

""The results that have been attained in Montgomery County are nothing short of phenomenal," said Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke. "Over a period of approximately 12 years, they were able to raise the bar for all of their kids while simultaneously closing the 'achievement gap.'""

Phenomenal? Is the Achievement Gap in MCPS really closed?

I hope Superintendent Mary Jane Burke takes the time to read the "Report on Our Call To Action," and decides for herself.

You can lease a public school site

Just don't use it for a school!

Brickyard Soccer Fields Rfq Dp Version 1-5-12 With Attachments

Friday, January 13, 2012

50 ways to leave your lover, or 50 ways to bluff the Board

You know the Paul Simon song.  Well, here in Montgomery County we have our own version of the song.  It has to do with what the Board of Education is told at public Board meetings.

Here's today's example of how the Board of Education may not always be getting the most accurate information as they deliberate and vote.

The following is part of a Public Information Act response from the MCPS Public Information officer.

Yellow is added to highlight the important parts of this response from MCPS.  #1 is the question that the citizen asked, and the italicized response from MCPS is below. 
I [Dana Tofig, Director] am responding to your December 7, 2011, Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) request regarding the site selection process for the Bethesda Chevy Chase Middle School #2. I am responding on behalf of the superintendent of schools who, as official custodian of records for the school system, is responsible for replies under the Maryland Public Information Act, Maryland State Government Article §§10-611, et seq.

Responses to your specific requests are as follows:

1. At the Board of Education meeting on April 28th, 2011, Mr. James Song, director, Department of Facilities Management, stated that approximately 50 sites were originally considered for the site of-the Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) Middle School #2. I have requested that list of sites from Mr. Song but I have not yet received it.

Mr. Song’s reference to "approximately 50 sites" being considered for the site of the new B-CC Middle School #2 was an estimate meant to convey the thoroughness of the review of site options. MCPS staff used Geographic Information System technology to assist in a review of available land in the B-CC Cluster. Based on this review, 10 candidate sites were identified and were the only sites considered by the Site Selection Advisory Committee (SSAC). The 10 candidate sites reviewed in the first site selection process plus any additional candidate sites that are identified by members of the SSAC will be presented at the first meeting.

Gazette: Bethesda middle site selection faces old concerns

As school system looks for land for middle school, residents complain they’re still not being heard

Berliner knew school land was at risk, kept quiet

...Representatives of the Brickyard Coalition cited an e-mail between David Dise, director of the Montgomery County Department of General Services, and Kassa Seyoum, capital projects manager, dated Sept. 30, 2010, which states: "I [David Dise] met with Roger Berliner this afternoon who asked that we postpone the Brickyard Road component until he has time to prep residents ...."
Potomac residents were not made aware of the decision until March 2011 and voiced their frustrations at Wednesday’s meeting...

There's always $$ for a new administrator!

Job opening posted on The Washington Post Jobs website January 11, 2012:

"MCPS seeks candidates with a commitment to academic excellence to apply for the Associate Superintendent for Professional Development and School Support position."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Breaking News: Brandman & Starr will pay farmer $10K to go away

Patch: Brickyard Settlement Details Released
...The Circuit Court case was to determine if the Montgomery County BOE violated the Open Meetings Act when it gave the Brickyard Road lease to Montgomery County...

Patch: Middle School Committee Whittles Down Options

Click link for full article:  At the first site-selection meeting, members eliminated 13 locations.

Post: "Thirty-seven states had a narrower gap" than Maryland

...On the reading test, 40 percent of eighth-grade students scored proficient or advanced on the 2011 test, giving the state a seventh place ranking. (Maryland and the nation still have a lot of room to improve).
But the so-called “poverty gap,” or the difference in scores between those eligible for free lunches and those not eligible, was much less favorable.
The 27-point difference in scores was about the national average. Thirty-seven states had a narrower gap.
Forty percent of eighth-grade students in Maryland also scored proficient or advanced on the math test, putting the state in 13th place.
But the 32-point “poverty gap” in scores was significantly higher than the 26-point national average. Maryland came in second-to-last.
Read the full Washington Post article at this link.  Note that former Superintendent Jerry Weast now sits on the Board of Trustees for Education Week, the organization that did the ranking.   

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Board of Education races heat up!

It was a busy day at the Montgomery County Board of Elections!
As of 9:22 PM this evening there are now 11 candidates in 3 different Board of Education races.

Based on the information at this time, there will be Primary elections for only the At Large seat and the District 2 seat.

With only 2 candidates in the District 4 race, that race will not show up on the ballot until the General Election in November. 

Reminder that all Board of Education seats are elected countywide. All voters will be able to vote in each of these 3 races, no matter where they live.  

Montgomery 2012 Presidential Primary Election

Board of Education At Large
August, Lou
Contact Information
13605 Mills Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20904
(301) 879-3331    

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/06/12

Kauffman, Phil
Contact Information
17621 Gatsby Ter
Olney, MD 20832
(301) 570-4836 

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 12/09/11

Panner, Morris
Contact Information
4701 Willard Ave. #436
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
(617) 680-3725

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/10/12

Shudofsky, Aryeh
Contact Information
8201 16th St Apt 426
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(267) 403-0446      

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/11/12

Board of Education District 002

Ali, Saqib
Contact Information
12504 Degas Court
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
(240) 812-9671  

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/11/12

Byrne, Susan
Contact Information
Gailthersburg, MD 20878
(301) 200-2535  

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/11/12

Ellinport, Jeanne
Contact Information
319 Argosy Dr
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
(301) 670-0770    

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/11/12

Evans, Fred
Contact Information
9905 Silver Brook Dr.
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 706-3993    

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 12/20/11

Smondrowski, Rebecca
Contact Information
101 Short St.
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
(301) 325-6246

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/11/12

Board of Education District 004

Barclay, Christopher
Contact Information
7108 14th Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912
(301) 202-4706

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/05/12

Seckinger, Annita
Contact Information
3004 Collins Ave
Silver Spring, MD 20902
(240) 426-3869      

Juris. Montgomery
Status Active -
Filed Regular - 01/11/12

Why is There No Modern Day Roscoe Nix in Montgomery County?

by Joseph Hawkins
I’m glad that as a Montgomery County Public School employee, I knew Mr. Nix. For more than a year in the late 1980s, I served as a consultant to a NAACP Blue Ribbon Panel that Mr. Nix established to examine why so few black males enrolled in and graduated from Maryland colleges and universities. And I have defended Mr. Nix’s role in putting race on the MCPS table—long before Jerry Weast arrived in our county....
Read Mr. Hawkins article on Roscoe Nix at this Patch link:

11th largest school system names candidates for Superintendent

The 11th largest public school system in the country is conducting a PUBLIC superintendent search.

11th largest.

That's a bigger public school system than world class-Baldridge Montgomery County Public Schools.

It's Palm Beach County in Florida.

What are these people thinking?

They are conducting a PUBLIC Superintendent search.  PUBLIC as in the NAMES (GASP!!) of the 25 candidates AND their RESUMES (HORRORS!) are posted on the school systems website for the PUBLIC to review.
Palm Beach County
Here, see for yourself by clicking this link. But cover your eyes. Here in world class-Baldridge land we aren't allowed to know this kind of super secret information.  Read more about this very public superintendent search in this Palm Beach Post News article.

In progressive Montgomery County, Maryland our Board of Education conducts superintendent searches the "right" way! They do it in secret, even if they have to violate the Maryland Open Meetings Act! What role does the public have in a public school anyway?

Our Board of Education is so intent on keeping public information secret that they have even hired an outside attorney to beg the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board to expunge the Opinion that found a violation in last year's superintendent search process.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Notice: Do not use the MC Board of Elections website!

If you are interested in running for a Montgomery County Board of Education seat, do not use the Montgomery County Board of Elections website to determine your Board of Education district.  The MC Board of Elections website has not been updated since the Maryland Legislature scrambled the Montgomery County Board of Education districts.

Call the Board of Elections directly at 240-777-8502 to determine your Board of Education district.  

There are 3 seats up for election this year.  2 seats require candidates to live in specific "districts".  Call the Board of Elections at the above phone number to see if you qualify for a district seat.  And, 1 seat is an "at-large" seat and anyone in Montgomery County can file to run for that seat.

As of today, there will NOT be a Board of Education Primary election because there aren't enough candidates up for any of the seats.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

And the Inspector General says...

The Montgomery County Inspector General has released his report on the MCPS surprise surplus from last spring.

What the Inspector General Found:

1) The Monthly Financial Reports MCPS provides to County elected leaders
present the estimated year-end financial results of MCPS relative to the
budget. The reports display differences between amounts budgeted and
estimates of revenues and expenditures but should present more complete
actual revenue and expenditure data for analysis.

2) The actual information reported in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) differs from the data presented as “actual” in the operating budget submissions.
MCPS is able to reconcile the amounts but reconciliations are not presented
in MCPS documents. Internal service fund information is only presented in the CAFR.

3) Although Maryland State law requires that the County appropriate funds by specified categories, and that the BOE request and report by these categories (as it does in the Monthly Financial Reports and the CAFR), fewer than 25 out of over 1,000 pages in the MCPS operating budget present data related to the State categories. The budget documents do not clearly link the State categories to the operating or program budget data.

The presentation makes it difficult to evaluate the request by State categories and determine the impact of funding decisions. However, we noted that in the December, 2011 submission of the Superintendent’s FY2013 Operating Budget, MCPS included a new pie chart addressing “Where the Money Goes by State Category.”

4) At the time the Council made its final decision on the MCPS appropriation for FY 2012, the Council staff had not been provided updated information regarding the projected health benefits costs in FY 2011. The information was not presented to the Council Education Committee or the Council for review and consideration.

Mcps Final Report Jan 2012                                                                                            

Let's Condemn Private Land for Schools

It's a new low for the Montgomery County Board of Education...

At the January 10, 2012 Board of Education meeting the Board will vote to proceed with requesting that a piece of farmland in Germantown be condemned for use as a school site.  

Northwest Cluster
Initially, think about the legal bills that the taxpayers of Montgomery County will be footing to fund this legal process.  Estimate of cost, anyone?  Remember the Board of Education legal advice comes via no-bid contract awards. Anyone know what taxpayers are paying an hour for these firms to give legal advice to the Board of Education? 

Then, take a look at the list of properties the Board of Education already owns. Remember that many sites are leased out to private entities, and one site in particular is being preserved for use by Comcast and cell tower companies rather than used for public school purposes.  

Close up of NW Cluster
The land the Board of Education wants condemned is in the Northwest Cluster.  It is farmland.  See images for an up close look at the Northwest Cluster of public schools.  The land is known as the Phillips Farm and is shown  with a yellow marker in the center of the Google Map below.  Click on any of the images to enlarge them for easier viewing. You might know this farm.  It's just 2 miles down the road from the Soccer Plex.
Location of farm landCondemnation

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Secret MCPS/M-NCPPC Committee to Meet Jan 9th at 3 PM

Well, it was a secret until now.  

Remember how MCPS and M-NCPPC decided to form a Joint Working Group to tackle the sticky issue of MCPS designating park sites as school sites?  What ever happened to that Joint Working Group? Did it meet? Who is in the "group"?  Well, MCPS and M-NCPPC took the Joint Working Group behind closed doors so there haven't been any meeting announcements or press coverage on the work of this group. 

What better way to discuss this important issue than behind closed doors?  As Board member Patricia O'Neill says, the public can be such PIAs.  Better to have meetings that aren't announced to the public and don't allow the press access to cover the work of the group. 

But the Parents' Coalition thought you should know what this very important Joint Working Group has been up to behind closed doors.  

So, here are the minutes of the heretofore secret M-NCPPC/MCPS Joint Working Group on school site selection.  See below for the agendas, members, minutes and meeting dates.  

By the way, the next meeting of this group is January 9, 2012 from 3 PM - 5PM at the MCPS Department of Facilities Management.  

M-NCPPCMCPS Joint Working Group Oct-Dec2011

MABE: The Handout They Didn't Hand Out Last Night

UPDATE: Sunday, January 8, 2012:
It seems that some of the MABE links on Maintenance of Effort have become disabled since the original posting. To see the MABE legislative position on Maintenance of Effort, click HERE.

To see the MABE proposed amendments on the MOE "funding floor", CLICK HERE.

Our tax dollars, via the dues that the Board of Education pays, are being used to develop these platforms. Don't you think we should be permitted to read them?

Turns out the Maryland Association of Boards of Education presented a "Call for Maintenance of Effort Reform" at the MACo conference last August, in Ocean City.
You can read the whole presentation HERE.

Interestingly, Valerie Ervin gave a presentation at the same conference, on Montgomery County's experience during the last budget cycle with the maintenance of effort issue. You can read her entire presentation HERE.(Just scroll down to the list of presentations, and click on it).