Thursday, June 27, 2013

Montgomery Sentinel: MCPS Investigates Principal For Improper Use Of Funds

ROCKVILLE – The Rock Terrace School community is reeling after Montgomery County Public Schools placed the principal on administrative leave following accusations of improper use of school funds.

Lyda Astrove, a local attorney and advocate for the parents and students, said the school apparently paid children for work done in a transition to work program and set up bank accounts in the children’s’ names. However, according to Astrove, parents were not aware of the money or the bank accounts.

Continues at: http://www.thesentinel.com/mont/MCPS-investigates-principal6-27-2013

Printed edition: http://data.axmag.com/data/201306/20130627/U22594_F225390/FLASH/index.html

Exclusive: Monitoring of Student Achievement Calendar

Now that the Seven Keys are out, here's a draft calendar showing what data MCPS is going to be tracking under Superintendent Joshua Starr's leadership.  This draft calendar was presented to the BOE at their off-site meeting on June 20, 2013.  

Note that one of the things replacing the Seven Keys is Hope, Wellbeing and Engagement.  Fortunately, we can pay no bid survey company Gallup almost $1 million dollars a year to rate our students' Hope, Wellbeing and Engagement.  

Lucky Gallup! They are guaranteed annual renewal of their no-bid contract for as long as Superintendent Starr is here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Towson University slammed by state auditor over collections, security, and procurement

In a report released today by Maryland state auditors, Towson University officials were criticized for failure to collect bad check payments, highly questionable procurement practices, and poor security in their information systems. The entire report is available at: http://www.ola.state.md.us/Reports/Fiscal%20Compliance/Towson13.pdf

Gazette: Handling of Work Study Earnings at Rock Terrace Questioned

Handling of work-study earnings at Rock Terrace questioned

School system investigating student pay procedures

By Lindsay A. Powers And St. John Barned-Smith Staff Writers

Excerpt:

Roman Korionoff, spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, said the office was made aware of the situation at Rock Terrace School last week.

“We are working to obtain all the pertinent information and will go where the evidence and information leads us. As of now, it would be inappropriate to comment further on the matter,” Korionoff said.

A spokesman for Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot said that because of the tax ramifications, the comptroller’s office would work with state and local authorities to investigate the allegations and would do everything the law allows to watch out for children and their families.

To read the entire Gazette article, CLICK HERE.

Exclusive Memo: How to Control Board of Education Members

At the June 20, 2013, Board of Education meeting held off-site (no video of this meeting) Board of Education member Shirley Brandman presented the following memo on how to control Board of Education members' questions on topics such as concussions, school gardens, elimination of styrofoam trays, dangers of substance abuse, math acceleration and bell times.  You know, all those messy public school issues that the Superintendent doesn't want the elected Board of Education to discuss! 

Here's BOE member Brandman's suggestion for how to keep BOE members quiet. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rock Terrace: What Must Be Done

The allegations concerning financial mismanagement of Rock Terrace student earnings have been known to Montgomery County Public Schools upper administration for over one month. Every day that passes without swift action by MCPS to discover which students had bank accounts, and what happened to the money in those accounts, serves to jeopardize those students' adult services, their Medicaid benefits, and their Supplemental Security Income payments. On multiple occasions over the last month, I have sent emails to the Associate Superintendent, the Superintendent, and the Community Superintendent urging them to contact the affected families and begin to rectify the situation.

Yesterday, I learned that a "robo call" went out on "ConnectEd" from Dr. Chris Garran, the community superintendent (now high school superintendent), responsible for overseeing operations at Rock Terrace School. The robo-call message was something to the effect of these are just allegations at this point, and if you have any evidence contact Ms Dublinski in Human Resources.

I don't know if it went to all current Rock Terrace parents or to current and former Rock Terrace parents.

I do know that I think Dr. Garran has it backwards: MCPS should NOT be issuing robo-calls asking people to call Human Resources, Dr. Garran and his associates must take the time to contact each family, one at a time. A live person should be making these phone calls, offering assistance, explaining the situation, and promising to work with all the families until the situation has been resolved. MCPS should START with all the students named and identified by account number on the internal "spreadsheet" who were indicated as having been paid, and work out from there! These parents don't know what they don't know! MCPS, on the other hand, knows which kids were paid! They should contact the families and explain to them what is going on, and assist them with recovering the money that was paid to the youths, help the families ascertain if they had one of those bank accounts! This problem is not limited to current students, and reaches as far back as 2004.

This is going to take MONTHS to unravel. Time for some of those administrators over in the Carver Center to get to work. Maybe if they had stepped 50 feet out the rear entrance of Carver and taken a visit to Rock Terrace once in a while, they would know some of these families personally. It is not acceptable to sweep this issue under the rug. Parents and advocates will be watching to ensure that new procedures are developed to ensure that any money earned by students is properly documented, and students who had money withdrawn from their accounts are made whole. Anything less amounts to a breach of duty owed to these students.

Lyda Astrove

Exclusive: BOE & MCPS Joint Engagement Plan for 2013-2014

At the June 20, 2013, Board of Education off-site meeting (this meeting was not video taped) Superintendent Starr released his Draft Joint Engagement Plan for the 2013-2014 school year.   The plan shows dates and groups that the BOE and Superintendent Starr will be meeting with throughout the year.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Exclusive Video: BOE Committee Discussion of BOE Property: Future School Sites and Surplus Land

MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
Policy Committee 
May 10, 2013
1:00 pm
Room 120

Discussion of “Guidelines for Leasing, Licensing, or Using MCPS Property 
that is Being Held as a Future School Site.” (Policy DNA, Management of
Board of Education Property) – Judy Bresler/James Song/Bruce Crispell
(2:25) 20 minutes

BOE Committee meetings are held off camera.  The Parents' Coalition videotaped this discussion and is making it available to the public.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

WTOP: Concerns about Montgomery Co. school finances aren't new

  • A PlayStation, a Nintendo 3DS, and nine iPod Shuffles were paid for with school funds, but there was no record of who received them.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Patch: Parents: Rock Terrace Staff Bilked Students Out of Work-Study Earnings

http://rockville.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/parents-rock-terrace-staff-bilked-students-out-of-workstudy-earnings

Board of Education Can't Even Get School's Name Correct on Signage!


With everything in turmoil at Rock Terrace School, the Board of Education plants a sign out front touting the new generators the school is to receive.

The only problem is that they got the name of the school WRONG.

Rock Terrace School is NOT an elementary school.

There are no elementary students at Rock Terrace.

Maybe if the Board of Education took a walk over to the building 50 feet from their office, they would know that.

FieldTurf gets another MCPS Contract! Cost comes in at $205,178 OVER BUDGETED $1.1 Million!!!


It's another no bid artificial turf purchase for Montgomery County Public Schools and YOU will be footing the bill!

Yes, the Board of Education approved a plan to pay $1.1 million for the Wootton High School artificial turf football field.  As usual, MCPS took NO COMPETITIVE BIDS and immediately awarded the contract to FieldTurf.  

What is FieldTurf going to charge for the Wootton High School artificial turf football field?

$1,305,178

Who is going to pay the difference? Why you are, of course.  Montgomery County taxpayers will once again be opening their wallets to pay for another no bid artificial turf purchase by MCPS.  Why exactly is it that MCPS doesn't have to put these massive purchases out for competitive bids? 

Below is Superintendent Starr's memo on the purchase for the June 24, 2013, Board of Education meeting.  You can ignore Superintendent Starr's smoke and mirrors. The "revenue" from this field will never cover the cost difference.  And, in any event, the bill has to be paid way before any revenue could ever be generated.

You can also ignore Superintendent Starr's ramblings about Keystone Purchasing Network.  We already know the Keystone prices are HIGHER than what FieldTurf charges when they submit COMPETITIVE BIDS. 

Why is it again that artificial turf football fields by FieldTurf only cost $614,958.84 in other jurisdictions but $1.3 MILLION in Montgomery County? 


WTOP continues coverage of Rock Terrace School student funds

Listen to WTOP this afternoon for more on the breaking story concerning students and their funds at a Montgomery County Public School. 

WTOP: MCPS parent - Money taken from secret bank account in student's name

Friday - 6/21/2013, 5:19am  ET
WASHINGTON - Where's the money?
That's the question parents of students with disabilities at one Montgomery County school are asking after they learned their children had bank accounts where money was deposited and withdrawn -- allegedly by school staff.
As first reported by WTOP, a group of parents whose students attend the Rock Terrace School in Montgomery County say their young adult children are transitioning out of the program. But the parents only recently found out their children were getting paid for work performed as part of their vocational training at the school...
story continues at this link: http://www.wtop.com/52/3365414/Montgomery-Co-mom-says-students-money-taken-by-teachers

Teacher Preparation Program Rankings Make U.S. News Debut

Teacher Preparation Program Rankings Make U.S. News Debut

Kate Walsh wants to bust up the teacher preparation market.
That's why on Tuesday her group, the National Center for Teaching Quality, is releasing its first ranking of teacher preparation programs on the U.S. News & World Report website. The nearly across-the-board extremely low scores pull back the curtain on "an industry of mediocrity," according to a report released in conjunction with the rankings.
"The field of teacher preparation has rejected any notion that its role is to train the next generation of teachers," the authors write. "Any training regimen in classroom management or reading instruction runs the risk, the field worries, of new teachers pulling from a fixed bag of tricks rather than considering each class as something new and unique."
NCTQ's uses a four-star rating system based on training programs' curricula, syllabi and admissions standards. Less than 10 percent of the programs rated earn three stars or more. Only four programs, Lipscomb, Vanderbilt, Furman University and Ohio State University, earned four stars...[continues at link]
----------------------------------

Findings by State:  Maryland 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Washington Post version of Rock Terrace Story - only the MCPS PR comment

Montgomery school staff allegedly misused student work-study funds

As of Friday morning The Washington Post story has been updated to include comments from Lyda Astrove.

Breaking News: WTOP reports a Principal on leave following questions concerning student funds

Listen to WTOP this evening for the breaking story concerning students and their funds at a Montgomery County Public School.

LISTEN TO KATE RYAN'S REPORTS HERE:

FIRST REPORT on YouTube:





*SECOND REPORT(AUDIO)

*THIRD REPORT(AUDIO)


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Montgomery County State's Attorney http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/sao/
Contact Information:
Office Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday,
except for legal holidays
Office of the State's Attorney for Montgomery County
50 Maryland Avenue, 5th floor, Judicial Center, Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (240) 777-7300    Fax: (240) 777-7413
FJC Phone (240) 773-0444    FJC Fax (240) 777-7490

Exclusive: First Look at Starr's Strategic Planning Memo

On Monday, June 24, 2013, Superintendent Joshua Starr will present the Board of Education with his Strategic Planning Memo.  The Parents' Coalition has obtained an early copy of the memo.  Read it here first:

Exclusive: Starr Eliminates 7 Keys

Superintendent Joshua Starr is "re-branding" Montgomery County Public Schools.

Gone are Superintendent Jerry Weast's 7 Keys.

Here's the draft of new MCPS "Brand" as shown in a brochure that was presented to the Board of Education at yesterday's off-camera meeting.  Superintendent Starr presented this brochure to the BOE and informed them that it was important that we "re-brand now."


MCPS

How many backpacks do MCPS students need?

The MCPS side foundation has already purchased 40,000 backpacks for students for August, yet here is a charity also collecting backpacks.

Are this many backpacks needed, or is this just a way to fund raise?

Gazette:  Backpack donations needed for schoolchildren

Interfaith Works is collecting backpacks this summer to help children as they start the next school year...


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

“They were kids playing in a place that’s not safe to play,” said Fairfax school board member Janie Strauss

That's how one Fairfax County Board of Education member describes a school with classroom trailers. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/1-critically-injured-at-fairfax-school/2013/06/18/36016c0c-d889-11e2-a016-92547bf094cc_story.html

Teen was electrocuted on the roof of a classroom trailer

...“It is my understanding that there is a shed on the back of the building that you can climb up and get access to the roof of the school from,” Torre said. “Apparently there are some wires along the roofline that may have been what was involved here.” 
According to a Fox Mills Estates resident who lives adjacent to the school and wished to remain anonymous, neighborhood teens often climb up on the roof of the school to “hang out.” 
Fox Mill Elementary School Assistant Principal Brian Moose acknowledged that there is a shed behind the school with wires and conduits that can be accessed. “You could climb it pretty easily,” he said...
 http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20130619/NEWS/130619057/1117/teen-electrocuted-on-roof-next-to-fox-mill-elementary-school&template=fairfaxTimes

Fairfax teen electrocuted on school roof | WJLA.com

Fairfax teen electrocuted on school roof | WJLA.com

MCPS Releases Charter School Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) Rate, Still No Principal

MCPS has finally released a tiny bit of information about its one and only charter school.

The Community Montessori Charter School information page on the MCPS website confirms that the school is operating without a principal.  In fact, the Gazette has reported even the one staff member named on this page is no longer at the school.  

The page also shows that the percentage of students designated as eligible to receive Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) at the school is 17.9%.  The MCPS County average FARMS rate is 42.4%.

Here is what the public schools look like in the neighborhood around the Community Montessori Charter School:
Weller Road ES (0.2 miles from the school), FARMS 79.8; ESOL 60.3
Georgian Forest ES (0.9 miles), FARMS 76.2, ESOL 34.8
Highland ES (0.9 miles), FARMS 82.2, ESOL 59.6
Shriver ES (1.0 miles), FARMS 82.1, ESOL 62.4
Harmony Hills ES (1.1 mile), FARMS 88.4, ESOL 57.2
Bel Pre ES (1.5 miles), FAMRS 67.2, ESOL 46.5

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Entire School Site for Sale! Did the BOE Bid on this School?

This entire school site is for sale in Olney. Could MCPS use this property to relieve overcrowding?

http://www.gazette.net/article/20130618/NEWS/130619196/washington-christian-academy-x2019-s-olney-site-for-sale&template=gazette

Artificial Turf Procurement Work Session at City of Gaithersburg

City of Gaithersburg Work Sesson on Artificial Turf procurement held on June 10, 2013:

Monday, June 17, 2013

D.C. says NO to Crossway Charter School

...Crossway Community, which operates a Montessori charter school in Montgomery County, was turned down for not adequately describing how its program would work in the District...
The Washington Post: D.C. charter board approves two new schools

Are Maryland's New Teacher-Evaluation Deals a Hoax?

Are Maryland's New Teacher-Evaluation Deals a Hoax?

Questions Arise About Need for Algebra 2 for All

Questions Arise About Need for Algebra 2 for All

Surprise! BOE to spend 2 Days Off Camera This Week!

Board of Education meetings are public meetings, open to the public.  So why are two days of BOE meetings being held this week off site and off camera?

There is no Agenda posted for these meetings.  

If you attend, let us know what goes on.  You are welcome to attend, take notes, and record (audio or video) these meetings.  If no one attends these meetings, the public will probably never know what our elected Board of Education members discuss or vote on during these sessions. 


Wed, June 1909:00 AMBoard Retreat, Maple Room, 45 West Gude Drive, Rockville
Thu, June 2009:00 AMBoard Retreat, Maple Room, 45 West Gude Drive, Rockville

Parent is "seriously disgusted" with Doug Duncan's endorsed cell tower plan

A parent writes to the Anne Arundel Board of Education about the Milestone (Doug Duncan endorsed) agreement that now is seeking to put multiple cell towers on every public school site in Maryland counties. 

Daly Elementary School, Germantown
To the members of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education: 
I am a resident of Piney Orchard Elementary School [POES] with two [children] who will be attending Piney Orchard Elementary School in the next few years. I purchased my home nearly 10 years ago when Piney Orchard was still being developed because it seemed like the perfect place to raise a family and send my (future) kids to school. 
I have to say that I am beyond disappointed and frustrated by the conduct of the BOE regarding the Milestone Communications plans for installing a cell tower at Piney Orchard Elementary School. From my perspective, the BOE has not shown any concern whatsoever for the health, safety, and well-being of the children and staff members who attend this school everyday, or the residents who live nearby. 
The BOE (e.g., YOU) did not make any effort whatsoever to notify the students, parents, faculty and nearby residents of POES about the discussions you were having with Milestone regarding the installation of a cell tower at our elementary school (or any other AACo school, for that matter). Beyond that, I am seriously disgusted that you would have entered into a master lease agreement with Milestone to offer up EVERY SINGLE SCHOOL in this county as a possible cell tower site without AT LEAST giving the public reasonable notice and an opportunity to participate in the discussions. 
I'm willing to bet that you didn't consult any independent sources for health and safety research data during this process, let alone conduct your own investigation or analysis of potential risks posed by cell tower sites. The fact that you relied solely on data and information provided to you by Milestone is repulsive and quite frankly, embarrassing. 
It seems that new studies are emerging all the time that show strong correlations between cell tower emissions and increased health risks. I just don't understand why you think it's okay to gamble on our childrens' health? Why is it worth the risk? For a few thousand dollars in the county's education budget? Personally, I would happily pay several thousand dollars to keep my own children away from these dangerous utilities. 
Honestly, after this experience, my trust in the Anne Arundel County Board of Education has been shattered. I am completely convinced that you DO NOT have our childrens' best interests at heart. 
I vow to fight against placing this cell tower at POES for as long as it takes until a new tower site is selected that is at a sufficiently safe distance away from schools and homes. Additionally, I will continue to fight on behalf of all of the other schools in our county too...I have urged my delegates to introduce legislation that would ban cell towers from being constructed near schools and homes. This type of law currently exists in other counties and jurisdictions, and I believe that we can also pass it here in Anne Arundel County, or perhaps even the whole state of Maryland. 
I care about the children and residents of Anne Arundel County. Please demonstrate that you do too.
Signed, 
Anne Arundel parent 
----------
2004 Israel Study
Study indicated an association between increased incidence of cancer and living in proximity to a Cell Tower. Those living near a Cell Tower are 4.15 times more likely to develop cancer. Authors: Ronni Wolf MD, Danny Wolf MD
Transmission Mast on the Incidence of Cancer, 2004 German Study.
Ten year study conducted from 1994-2004, revealed that living within 400 meters of a cell Tower increased the risk of developing cancer by three hundred (300%) percent. Authors: Horst Eger, Klaus Uwe Hagen, Birgitt Lucas, Peter Vogel, Helmut Voit
Poland Military Study, 1996.
The Military Center for Radiation Safety studied the cancer death rates for all career military personal (approx 128,000 persons each year), for the 14 year period of 1971-1985. The study revealed that persons occupationally exposed to RF emissions were nearly twice as likely to develop brain tumors, 13.9 times more likely to develop chronic myeocylic leukemia, 8.62 times more likely to develop acute myeoblastic leukemia and 5.82 times more likely to develop non-hodgkin lymphomas. Department of Biological Effect of Non-Ionizing Radiations, Center for Radiobiology and Radiation Safety at the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidermiology, Warsaw, Poland.

The French Study 2002
Study of the health of people living in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations” (Cell Towers)
Study examined adverse health impacts of people living in close proximity to Cell Towers and any disparity of such impact on females as compared to males. Based upon adverse affects reported, conclusion was that Cell Towers should not be constructed less than 300 meters from populations.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

MCPS Charter School's "future is uncertain"

Here's the staff list for the MCPS Charter School.
No principal is listed, only two teachers. 
The Washington Post reports on Montgomery County Public Schools only Charter School.  In typical Washington Post fashion, they skip the fact that the school has no principal!  If a D.C. school was operating without a principal wouldn't The Washington Post report that?  You bet they would. 

And, don't you think The Washington Post would get the name of the school correct?  There is no "Crossway" Charter School.  The name of the school is Community Montessori Charter School.  The Charter School was to be a separate and independent organization from the Crossway organization.  Again, if this was a D.C. story The Washington Post would be all over the fact that the Charter is not being operated according to their legal mandate.  But, this is MCPS so who cares? 

The Washington Post: Montgomery’s public Montessori school seeks financial stability
...The relationship between the school system and the charter school will become particularly important as Crossway begins teaching kindergarten-age students this fall and looks to develop sustainable funding. Crossway opened in August with about 70 students, and about 40 new children are expected for the coming year. The plan is for the school to eventually teach students through third grade...

Let's Read! Let's Move!


Parents' Coalition is honored to be invited again this year to the U.S. Department of Education to participate in Let's Read! Let's Move!  This year our date with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is Wednesday July 10th.   The event begins at 11:45 am.  Parents' Coalition invites children from the ages of Pre-K through 3rd grade to come with us and read and move at the Department of Education.  Each year Mr. Duncan invites friends and they read to our children.  After the event, the kids choose a book to take home, receive a very healthy snack, and move outside for some exercise.  Friends in years past have included Miss America; Eric Holder; White House Chef Sam Kass; and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

If you would like to attend with your children, please send us an email and we will send you the forms that need to be completed.  We are looking forward to seeing you all there!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Parents Can't Opt Out of Pearson Using Their Children to Field Test Standardized Tests

More on Pearson testing in New York:

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Social Justice Warrior" Spends $16K in March Against Kids With Disabilities

Special Education Legal Expenses

Special education legal fees for outside counsel for March 2013 totaled $16,194.
The year-to-date total of $250,170 is $75,757 (23.2 percent) lower than the same period in the previous year.
Total year-to-date special education legal costs of $250,170 are $185,691 (42.6 percent) lower than the budgeted amount of $435,861.
The Jeffrey A. Krew bill for March 2013 totaled $16,194 and included work on two administrative hearings cases.

Summertime!


It's summer vacation! To all our county schoolkids and teachers, have a wonderful summer vacation.  Relax, and enjoy the summertime.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Synthetic turf for Gaithersburg field draws opposition

http://www.gazette.net/article/20130612/NEWS/130619709/1080/synthetic-turf-for-gaithersburg-field-draws-opposition&template=gazette

Nashville High School Sues Field Turf, Inc.

FYI:  Montgomery Blair High School's artificial turf field was manufactured and installed at the same time by the same company. 

The City Paper: Father Ryan sues companies over alleged defective synthetic turf on football field
Father Ryan High School filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court last week against the companies hired to install the synthetic turf playing surface for its athletic field that was dedicated in 2009.
According to the suit, Field Turf Inc., the company subcontracted to supply the artificial turf, was receiving complaints from a number of its customers throughout North America during the field construction. Those complaints alleged that the product was defective and that the fibers of the surface were splitting, breaking, fading, thinning and shedding during routine use. 
Two other companies involved in the construction of Father Ryan’s field — Hardaway Construction and Precision Sports Fields — were also named in the suit. 
Father Ryan claims that information was never disclosed during the construction of the field. Two years after the turf was installed, Father Ryan began to notice premature degradation of the field’s fibers.
Upon discovery of the poor conditions of the field surface, Father Ryan informed Field Turf of the situation...
Article continues at this link.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Poolesville Math Teachers Speak Out (and where are the rest of you?)

Teachers: Why so many kids are flunking final exams in Montgomery County
By Valerie Strauss, Published: June 11, 2013 at 6:00 am Washington Post

These problems are not primarily caused by the students, the families or the teachers. The failure rates are the result of policies that have been in place for many years and are having a cumulative effect.

To read the whole article, CLICK HERE.

*************
Who sets policy for Montgomery County Public Schools? Your Board of Education, that's who! Let's give them a big round of applause!



Montgomery, Frederick schools continue to negotiate with state on teacher evaluations

Students’ standardized test scores will not be used to measure teacher effectiveness in Montgomery and Frederick counties for at least one more school year, although they will be used in the rest of the state.
Montgomery and Frederick counties’ public school systems — along with seven other local systems in Maryland — had been told to send the state a plan by Friday that outlined how, starting next school year, 20 percent of teachers’ evaluations would be based on students’ scores on state tests.
But now the state has decided to continue negotiating with Montgomery and Frederick counties for the next year regarding that requirement, and may decide that the systems do not need to comply with the same rules as the others, according to Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education.
Reinhard originally wrote in an email Friday that Montgomery and Frederick still would be held accountable for meeting the 20 percent requirements by the 2014-15 school year. However, he said on Monday that that is not the case.
The other seven systems still were being held to the Friday deadline, Reinhard said.
The state now is reviewing whatever plans came in to see if they are compliant. If they aren’t, they will need to divert to a state model for evaluations next school year.
 http://www.gazette.net/article/20130610/NEWS/130619977/1022/montgomery-frederick-schools-continue-to-negotiate-with-state-on&template=gazette

Observer: Turf not the answer for MCPS fields

When the new school year comes around, many county student athletes may be surprised to find something a little different under their feet. MCPS recently approved the installation of a turf field at Wootton High School, which will make it the fourth school in the past five years to have a turf field installed.
What athletes may not know is that the increasingly common artificial turf fields harbor numerous potential dangers. Concerns that artificial turf could lead to many health problems need to be recognized.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tonight! City of Gaithersburg to Discuss Plastic Grass No Bid Contract

This evening the City of Gaithersburg will hold a Worksession on their plan to buy plastic grass for a field. City staff claim they will be asking for "bids".  But, the same staff is already quoting an inflated "cost" for the plastic grass field.

Why will the City of Gaithersburg pay double what a plastic grass football field actually costs? Sounds like another No Bid plastic grass field for Montgomery County!

http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/sirepub/cache/2/sobj4prnaiwimv5b4vpuuma3/11002061020130244077.PDF

Ed Notes Online: Parents Present Pearson With $38 Million Invoice for Use of Child Labor for Field Tests

Montgomery County Public School parents, are you paying attention? 


Ed Notes Online: Parents Present Pearson With $38 Million Invoice for Use of Child Labor for Field Tests

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The yearbook class at Springbrook may have lacked guidance...the class was being run by a long-term substitute...

MCPS and the use of long-term substitutes (long-term substitutes do not have to be certified teachers and can exist in MCPS classrooms for years without parents ever knowing their status):

Springbrook students told to return yearbooks over bullying page

Principal apologizes to his school community for lack of oversight


Friday, June 7, 2013

New Budget Process Relies on Signing Up to Be on a Focus Group

MCPS is forming parent focus groups as part of the budget process.

The groups are as follows:

June 5 larger / general focus group

June 6, focus group for parents of elementary school students  

May 30 middle school 

June 3 high school 

If you are interested, contact MCPS TODAY.  Sorry for the late notice.

Please contact Julie Hall's office to express your interest or to ask any questions. 

Julie_Hall@mcpsmd.org

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Rapid transit in Montgomery County

Rapid transit in Montgomery County: could "Bus Rapid Transit" be the answer to Montgomer County's traffic nightmares. Dr. Paula Bienenfeld and Dan Reed join us in the studio to shed some light on the proposed plan. Allison Seymour reports

Gazette: Some Montgomery school staff unhappy with health care changes

Some Montgomery school staff unhappy with health care changes
By Jen Bondeson, Gazette, 6/5/13

Excerpts:

To save money on administrative fees, the school system is dropping UnitedHealthcare and adding Cigna, effective Jan. 1, 2014, Richard C. Johnstone, director of benefits for the school system, told members of the Montgomery County Board of Education Thursday.

(...)

The school system did not want to tell anyone of the change before the school board approved it, Johnstone said. The school system met with the three unions that represent employees prior to deciding on the change, and they were supportive, he said.

To read the whole article, CLICK HERE.

Montgomery schools will receive grant from Azerbaijani foundation - Washington Times

Montgomery schools will receive grant from Azerbaijani foundation - Washington Times

Montgomery County concedes nation's top graduation rate to rival Fairfax | WashingtonExaminer.com

Montgomery County concedes nation's top graduation rate to rival Fairfax | WashingtonExaminer.com

City to settle student bullying suit for $45K

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates is slated to approve the settlement of a lawsuit filed by a mother who said her daughter was assaulted and verbally harassed by another classmate.The settlement, which is on the agenda for Wednesday’s board meeting, calls for the mother, Bessie Pearson, to receive $45,000.Pearson filed her lawsuit against the city’s school board in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Oct. 7, 2011. She alleged that another student kicked her daughter, Nichelle Greene, in the head, face and body on Oct. 10, 2008, while Greene was attending Carver Vocational Technical High School...
 http://thedailyrecord.com/2013/06/04/city-to-settle-student-bullying-suit-for-45k/

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

D.C. Public School Students Get It! Graduation Fees are "Highway Robbery"

What's wrong with MCPS seniors? How come they don't get it that Graduation Fees are wrong and illegal?

NBC4:  Graduation Fees Rack Up in District Schools

Tonight: Forum on Montgomery County Code Rewrite Project

The Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board (SSCAB) and the President’s Council of Silver Spring Civic Associations (PREZCO) are holding a public forum on the Montgomery County Zoning Code Rewrite Project on June 5 at 7 p.m. in the Silver Spring Civic Building. Montgomery County’s Planning Department recently completed a process to rewrite the County’s Zoning Code. The Planning Board approved the final draft and now awaits the first public hearing before the County Council on June 11.
The SSCAB and PREZCO are sponsoring the June 5th forum to discuss the zoning code rewrite from civic and government perspectives. The forum will be held at the Silver Spring Civic Building and will include featured guests:
  • Farncoise Carrier, Planning Board Chair
  • Pamela Dunn, Planning Department Project Manager
  • Meredith Wellington, civic activist and former Planning Board Commissioner
  • Julie Davies, community member fo the Zoning Advisory Panel
Learn more about the Montgomery County Zoning Rewrite Project by visiting the Montgomery Planning website.

Can law enforcement investigations be "shut down" for "partisan reasons" in Montgomery County?

That's the allegation from former Montgomery County Inspector General Thomas Dagley in today's WUSA9 story:

In  May, Montgomery County's former Inspector General Thomas Dagley wrote to Kanstoroom, alleging that law enforcement investigations into the matter had been "shut down" for "partisan reasons."  

If Mr. Dagley's allegation is true then that would explain a lot about why investigations in to MCPS procurement and spending never result in reports to the public.

MCCPTA in Action Serving Ice Cream to MCPS Administrators

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

$695,000 to Reclaim Rock Creek Hills Park

From Save Rock Creek Hills
 Park Facebook page
Montgomery County is asking the public to comment on a proposal to reclaim the Rock Creek Hills Park for use as a school.

The Parks Department wants $695,000 for the park.  A sign posted at the site asks for comments from the public about this plan.  Apparently, the County only takes comments for 10 days so the comment period ends at the close of business on June 6th.

Note: The cost of acquiring this site is the kind of important information that is never included in MCPS site selection reports.

Here is the contact information for the person that is taking comments on behalf of the County Executive.



Bernie Fitzgerald

Real Estate Specialist
Department of General Services
Office of Real Estate.
101 Monroe Street, 9th Floor
Rockville, Maryland 20850
240-777-6076
240-777-6011 Fax
Bernie.Fitzgerald@montgomerycountymd.gov

Save Rock Creek Hills Park!: The Top Ten Reasons to Preserve Rock Creek Hills P...

Save Rock Creek Hills Park!: The Top Ten Reasons to Preserve Rock Creek Hills P...: [an email response to a request for public comment] Date: Tue, Jun 4, 2013 Subject: The top ten reasons to preserve Rock Creek Hills P...

Starr Putting Another Cell Tower Compound on a Red Zone Playground - Meeting This Evening

Superintendent Joshua Starr is allowing VERIZON to make a presentation this evening, JUNE 4, 2013 at 7 PM on his plans to permit another cell tower compound to be built on a Red Zone playground.

The next Red Zone school will be Neeslville Middle School in Germantown. See the orange arrow on the map.



The yellow dots on this map show the locations of the existing cell towers on MCPS playgrounds.

Family of Jogger Killed By School Bus Makes Desperate Plea for Witnesses

http://rockville.patch.com/articles/family-of-jogger-killed-by-school-bus-makes-desperate-plea-for-witnesses#photo-14676446

Starr's "Social Emotional" isn't a Curriculum, it's a Mindset



This comment that we received sums up Superintendent Starr's response perfectly:

So no longer 'social emotional LEARNING' [insert multiple @mcpssuper tweets here calling it 'SEL'], but "competency development, not a curriculum" [timestamp 0:52] because development is different from learning, as in professional development (PD) which is training, not learning b/c there are PD courses part of a PD curriculum - or not. AND -not OR- social emotional [fill in the blank] is a 'mindset', an attitude that come from within, and not learned; "you can't force it" [timestamp 1:13], but you can force other types of development, er,learning, er training -except when it's not? Is that different from social emotional tricks which are presumably learned, as in "a trick in your repertoire, not a curriculum" [timestamp 1:42]? Are those tricks learned from individual courses part of PD curriculum/not curriculum, or are the tricks a mindset. I get so confused...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Graduation Day!

Happy Graduation to all our county graduates! Well done.  Best wishes for your future from the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD.

Taking a look at the Montgomery County Council

As we slowly inch forward into another election cycle, we at the Montgomery County Sentinel thought it would be wise to take a look at the current county council: where they fall on issues; how constituents can reach them and what they think of themselves versus their campaign promises and achievements.

Observations were made of the council members in public meetings and we also assembled information on how quickly the council members responded to our requests.
Otherwise we offer no grade, but here is the report card on our county council. Voters can supply their own grade:
Read more at this link:  The Sentinel