Tuesday, February 27, 2024

MoCo Legislators Pushing Bill that will Allow for More Overcrowded Schools

Friday, March 1 at 9:00 am before the MD Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee chaired by MC Senator Brian Feldman with Senator Cheryl Kagan as Co-Chair 

Governor Moore has proposed a package of three bills. This bill, the Housing Expansion Affordability Act HB538/SB484, would increase affordability and density 1 mile from metro or on land owned/maintained by a non-profit or the State 
•    Prohibits a local legislative body from prohibiting manufactured homes in single family zoning
•    Prohibits local jurisdiction from denying State-funded affordable housing projects or restrict or limit development
•    Single Family housing will be able to include middle housing
•    Mix-use may include 30% more housing units than are currently allowed
•    Prevent local legislative body from prohibiting housing being built due to overcrowded schools


 From EPIC of  MoCo

Why Maryland school budgets are in turmoil — and what that means in classrooms

 From the Baltimore Banner, reporter Liz Bowie. Read the full story here.

For the past several years, Maryland schools have been anticipating a tsunami of new state and local money to wash over them, allowing them to add prekindergarten, raise teacher salaries and create support for high-poverty schools.

The reality is now here, and instead of euphoria, there’s shock, even from some educators who are deep in the weeds of the landmark education reform legislation.

Local school budgets are in turmoil, class sizes are rising or lowering, and superintendents are under pressure to figure it out fast. The general reaction: Wait, this is what the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future means?

The Blueprint requirements that have been most contentious this year force school systems to redirect money to specific schools with high-needs students — for instance, those with disabilities or who live in poverty. School systems were used to getting state money and generally spreading it out equally among the schools.

The re-prioritizing has been painful. Cecil County school Superintendent Jeffrey Lawson examined what that would mean for two schools in his county if he had to carry out the Blueprint requirements next school year. One is Bay View Elementary, where 66% of students are considered poor and 22% have special needs. The school would have seen a $1.3 million increase in its budget, but the second school, Rising Sun Middle School, which has significantly fewer students with special needs and poor students, would see its budget fall by $1.1 million.

In stark terms, that would mean adding 14 teachers to Bay View and taking 12 teachers from Rising Sun. Lawson said Bay View would likely have two teachers in a number of classrooms, since there aren’t 14 additional classrooms in the school. The student-to-teacher ratio at Bay View would fall to concentrate attention on students who need it the most. At Rising Sun, student class sizes might rise to 35 to 40 students per teacher, he said.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Who is running for the Montgomery County school board in the 2024 primary election?

Three incumbents are among 14 candidates

Three incumbents are among 14 candidates vying for three seats on the Montgomery County Board of Education during the May primary election.

Board Vice President Lynne Harris (At-Large) is facing five candidates while board member Rebecca Smondrowski (Dist. 2) is up against four challengers and board member Shebra Evans (Dist. 4) is facing two, according to the State Board of Elections records as of the Friday night filing deadline...

https://moco360.media/2024/02/14/who-is-running-for-the-montgomery-county-school-board-in-the-2024-primary-election/

Sunday, February 25, 2024

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

 

Once again, we're reprinting this article, which we first published on March 3, 2012. Because it's always time to celebrate Girl Scouts.

Girl Scout Cookies are now available and the Girl Scouts have a nifty app to show us where to buy our cookies this year. To find your local girl scout cookies, go here.

And, in the interests of historical accuracy, we found this early recipe from the origins of the girl scout cookies, and yes, Virginia, I made them, and they are delicious! Lots and lots of butter and sugar and not much else, so if you don’t feel like buying the cookies, here is the original you can use as a substitute. Just remember instead to donate money to the Girl Scouts. For the history of Girl Scout cookies go here.

An Early Girl Scout Cookie® Recipe
1 cup butter

1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.


Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Budgetpalooza is now on Youtube

Thanks all to those who attending and especially to those who took chapters and did the deep dive into the MCPS $3.3 billion FY25 Operating Budget on February 20th. The Parents' Coalition, the Montgomery County Civic Fed, and the Montgomery County Taxpayers League joined together and volunteered to go through the budget chapter by chapter. Thanks all. And here is the recording, now on Youtube.

024-02-20 MCTL/PCMC/MCCF Presents MCPS FY2025 Operating budget Palooza - YouTube

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

‘The Public Has a Right to Know’: Elrich Says Report Into MCPS Should be Less Redacted

County Executive Marc Elrich said more should be shared from the Jackson Lewis law firm report investigating the promotion of a former school principal who had numerous sexual harassment complaints against him...

https://www.mymcmedia.org/the-public-has-a-right-to-know-elrich-says-report-into-mcps-should-be-less-redacted/

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Teacher: "I believe that a budget savings of 0.007% should not outweigh the voices of thousands of MCPS educators who rely on GoGuardian"

I am a middle school math teacher with 28 years of teaching experience in MCPS, and also the parent of an MCPS student. In recent weeks, my fellow MCEA representatives at Takoma Park Middle School and I have had many conversations with teachers in our building who are frustrated and concerned about the decision to cancel GoGuardian for the 2024-25 school year. 


In case you are not familiar with GoGuardian, it is a tool that thousands of MCPS teachers use regularly to monitor students while they complete learning tasks and take assessments on Chromebooks. GoGuardian helps students stay on-task and avoid the temptations of gaming and other online distractions. It promotes academic integrity during assessments. Many teachers also use GoGuardian as a communication tool, to ask and answer questions during learning tasks on Chromebooks, and also to check in with students about their emotional well-being. So far, the only rationale presented for eliminating GoGuardian is to save $233,925, which represents 0.007% of the proposed MCPS operating budget of 3.164 billion dollars. 

Concerned that teachers’ voices had not been considered in the decision to eliminate GoGuardian, I first created a survey to capture staff opinions at Takoma Park Middle School. The results of that survey were so compelling, I decided to take the survey county-wide. Data is still coming in, but I wanted to share some preliminary results, based on over 700 responses (and counting) from MCPS educators. 

83% of teachers who responded to the survey use GoGuardian all or most of the time that students are on Chromebooks. 
88% strongly agreed (and another 9% agreed) with the statement “If my students use Chromebooks without GoGuardian, they are more likely to spend instructional time playing video games and accessing other non-school related websites.” 
88% strongly agreed (and another 9% agreed) with the statement “If my students use Chromebooks without GoGuardian, I will have to spend more time monitoring Chromebook usage to keep them on-task, and will be less able to help with learning tasks and provide feedback on their work.” 

Even more compelling than the numbers are the hundreds of comments from educators who are extremely concerned about the negative impacts of eliminating GoGuardian on student learning and student well-being. 

This Wednesday night, the survey will close and I will be sharing the full data with the Board of Education and Stephanie Sheron, Chief of MCPS’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, who announced the decision to cancel GoGuardian. However, with the Board scheduled to meet this Thursday (February 22) to vote on a tentative budget, it seemed important to get the word out to parents as quickly as possible. 

I believe that a budget savings of 0.007% should not outweigh the voices of thousands of MCPS educators who rely on GoGuardian to encourage the responsible use of technology, help students focus on learning, and safeguard the emotional well-being of their students. If you believe that MCPS should listen to these voices, please contact the decision makers and urge that full funding for GoGuardian be restored in the 2024-25 MCPS budget. Email addresses for Ms. Sheron and the board members are available at the MCPS website. Thank you for your time and support of our MCPS students and teachers. 

Sincerely, 
Sarah Manchester 
Math Teacher, MCEA Representative, and MCPS Parent 
Takoma Park Middle School 

Jury Retrial Set for 9 Days in April for Former Cloverly ES Teacher John Vigna

 Trial - Jury 04/22/2024

09:30:00 Chernosky, Theresa ; Calendar Judge 5, CR

Criminal Courtroom 9C - North Tower



Monday, February 19, 2024

New 4 Day Trial Set for Former Cloverly ES Teacher John Vigna in April 2024

Trial - Jury
04/02/2024 09:30:00
Chernosky, Theresa ; Calendar Judge 5, CR Criminal
Courtroom 9C - North Tower



Friday, February 16, 2024

More antisemitism, this time at B-CC High School

 From the principal:

 February 15, 2024

Dear Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Families,

I am writing to share information regarding a deeply concerning incident that occurred earlier today. This morning a student was walking in the hall during a class change loudly using anti-Semetic language. Specifically the student made the comment “Those stupid Holocaust Survivors.” The incident has been investigated and appropriate consequences have been administered in accordance with the MCPS Student Code of Conduct. In addition, the offending student has and will continue to be educated about the impact of their actions today.

At B-CC we do not tolerate slurs or hate speech of any kind. Our diverse student body and school community is a source of strength for us and statements such as those made today are unacceptable and are contrary to the values we uphold as a school. It is important that we continue our work with all our students to help them understand the inherent value our diversity offers and how hateful and hurtful words impact others. We need your help so that B-CC remains a respectful and inclusive place for all. These actions do not represent the values that B-CC and MCPS uphold.

We have and will continue to have a zero tolerance for hate/biased speech or gestures. Our Board of Education policy and MCPS regulations expressly prohibit the use of language, images, or symbols that promote hatred. Furthermore, we expect every member of our school community, both students and staff, to treat one another with respect and dignity, regardless of their personal characteristics or differences.

I encourage parents to talk with their children about respecting our differences.  Please help them to understand the weight that intolerable words, actions, and symbols carry with them.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the school at 240-740-0400.

Sincerely,

 

Shelton Mooney, Ed.D.

Principal

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Former Northwood High Track Coach Sentenced for Sexual Abuse of a Minor

Giovanni Reumante, 34, of Takoma Park, was sentenced to one year in prison followed by three years of supervised probation after he pleaded guilty to sex abuse of one of his athletes when she was a minor.

Reumante, who was sentenced Wednesday, will be a registered sex offender for life.

He waived two years of credit for time that he has served in prison. He pled guilty in November of 2022.

Reumante was a track and field coach at Northwood High School for several years, beginning in 2013. He also was a paraeducator at the school. According to court documents, the victim was one of his athletes before 2014 to 2017...

https://www.mymcmedia.org/former-northwood-high-track-coach-sentenced-for-sexual-abuse-of-a-minor/

Maryland Dems want to drop penalties for students who commit certain crimes at school

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WBFF) — A proposal in the Maryland General Assembly would eliminate punishments for certain crimes and disruptive behaviors committed by anyone classified as a student on school property.

Delegate Sheila Ruth, D-Baltimore County, and Senator Alonzo Washington, D-Prince George’s County, have been attempting to modify the state’s school security laws since 2021.

Ruth and Washington’s proposed amendments would eliminate Maryland’s prohibitions and penalties for enrolled students who engage in “disturbing activities at [their] school or college,” including “molesting or threatening [other] students.” Lawmakers say the term "molesting," in this instance, means to disturb...

https://foxbaltimore.com/news/local/maryland-dems-want-to-drop-penalties-for-students-who-commit-certain-crimes-at-school-democrats-annapolis-md-project-baltimore-crisis-in-the-classroom-sheila-ruth-law-proposal-bill-

***First PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) Formed in MCPS***

As far as the Parents' Coalition knows, this is the first time that a PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) has been formed at a MCPS school.  PTO's are an alternative to National PTA organizations. 

Congratulations to the families in the Montgomery Virtual Academy for forming this organization.  

Some MCPS schools don't even have PTAs, so it is notable that the families at this school have created this organization.  

Petition: BOE & @MCPS: Please continue to fund the Montgomery Virtual Academy @mocoboe

 

On behalf of the Montgomery Virtual Academy Parent Teacher Council, we are writing to express our strong support for the continuation of the Montgomery Virtual Academy program. As active participants in our students' education, we have witnessed firsthand the invaluable benefits that this program provides to students and families alike.


The Montgomery Virtual Academy offers a level of flexibility and accessibility that is unparalleled in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. For families with diverse needs and circumstances, such as medical conditions, learning styles, or scheduling conflicts, the Montgomery Virtual Academy serves as a lifeline, allowing students to receive a high-quality education from the comfort and safety of their own homes.


Furthermore, the Montgomery Virtual Academy fosters a sense of inclusivity and belonging for students who may feel marginalized or overlooked in a traditional classroom setting. By offering a virtual space for learning, the program accommodates students with diverse learning styles, preferences, and backgrounds, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to succeed academically and socially.


We would also like to commend the exemplary efforts of the deans, administrators, school staff, teachers, and paraprofessionals at the Montgomery Virtual Academy. Their dedication and commitment to supporting students and families have been truly remarkable. From providing personalized academic assistance to offering support and guidance, they have gone above and beyond to ensure that every student receives the attention and resources they need to thrive.


Shutting down the Montgomery Virtual Academy would be detrimental to students and their families. For many, this program represents the only feasible option for accessing education due to various constraints. Discontinuing this vital resource would not only disrupt the academic progress of students but also deprive them of a supportive learning environment tailored to their individual needs.


As members of the Montgomery Virtual Academy Parent Teacher Council, we have seen firsthand the positive impact of the Montgomery Virtual Academy on our students' academic performance, engagement, and overall well-being. The program not only provides challenging, engaging, and personalized instruction but also offers a supportive community of educators, counselors, and peers who are dedicated to the success and growth of every student.


In light of these benefits, we urge you to prioritize the continued support and growth of the Montgomery Virtual Academy program. By investing in virtual learning opportunities through the Montgomery Virtual Academy, you will not only meet the diverse needs of our students and families but also demonstrate a commitment to excellence, equity, and innovation in education.


Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration in support of the Montgomery Virtual Academy program.


Sincerely,
Montgomery Virtual Academy Parent Teacher Council

https://www.change.org/p/boe-mcps-please-continue-to-fund-the-montgomery-virtual-academy?recruiter=1330747970&recruited_by_id=a9331e00-ca09-11ee-9a2d-0337dc8fac1d&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_content=cl_sharecopy_37886441_en-US%3A7


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

MCPS faces criticism for employing 2 former principals involved in 2018 assault cases

At a February 8 Montgomery County Council meeting about the Inspector General report on MCPS' complaint processing, a councilmember referred to the 2018 Damascus High School sexual assault case.

Laurie-Anne Sayles asked MCPS Chief of Human Resources April Key a pointed question about the school's former principal and head football coach.

"Is the coach and principal still employed by MCPS?" she queried.

"Yes, they are," answered Key regarding former Damascus High Principal Casey Crouse and former coach Eric Wallich...

https://wjla.com/news/local/montgomery-county-public-schools-mcps-faces-criticism-for-employing-former-principals-involved-in-2018-assault-cases-damascus-gaithersburg-high-school-councilmember

Reminder: The Budgetpalooza is coming up! Tuesday Feb 20th, Zoom Only!

 

3,322,303,371 DOLLARS

158,231 STUDENTS

8 BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBERS

1 BUDGETPALOOZA

 Come Join the Parents' Coalition, the Montgomery County Civic Federation, and the Montgomery County Taxpayers League for the Reconstituted Budgetpalooza 


Tuesday February 20th 7-9 pm Zoom Only! 

To register for the Zoom:  

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcoduqpqj0uHNYhN_YW-w_RaFRWu2NitmFC

Come for an open discussion as we go chapter by chapter through the MCPS Proposed FY25 Operating Budget. 

 Hashtag #Budgetpalooza24

Acting MCPS Chief of Staff Michael Durso departs amid leadership changes

 


...Durso’s contract began on Jan. 16 and his last day was Feb. 7, according to Cram...

https://moco360.media/2024/02/13/acting-mcps-chief-of-staff-michael-durso-departs-amid-leadership-changes/

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

‘Cultural Change’ Needed at MCPS, Council President Says

As scrutiny continues over the public school system’s handling of misconduct complaints, the council president says a cultural change is needed at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).

“It needs to be a cultural expectation that is set at the highest leadership level within the school system, at the Board of Education, that is demanded from the superintendent, and that is expected among everybody who works within the school system,” County Council President Andrew Friedson said Monday. “Everybody who works within the school system should feel like there is a level of accountability.”..

https://www.mymcmedia.org/cultural-change-needed-at-mcps-council-president-says/