Middle school vote postponed to Feb. 13

School board, parents say they need time to understand the reform plan

Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2007

A middle school reform package discussed by the county school board on Tuesday would train teachers and principals, revise the curriculum, increase the use of technology and seek to improve communication with parents.

The board will vote on the package and a policy guiding middle school education on Feb. 13, the same day it will vote on Superintendent Jerry D. Weast’s proposed $1.98 billion fiscal 2008 budget.

Parents and board members still have questions about the three-year, $10 million reform package. Parents argued that it is too vague, and said delaying a vote would allow parents and the school board more time to fully understand the initiative.

‘‘We do not think moving ahead before all stakeholders, including board members, have had adequate time to evaluate the report enhances our partnership,” Jane de Winter, president of the county council of PTAs, told the board.

Board member Christopher S. Barclay (Dist. 4) of Takoma Park agreed, also asking for more time to consider the companion policy. ‘‘My concern is one, we’re getting this policy and the reform report, pretty much, with a few days to look at it,” he said.

The report recommends piloting changes at five schools next school year.

The recommendations include:

*Aligning math and English curriculums with standards established by The College Board, authors of the SAT.

*Making the accelerated curriculum available to students.

*Offering electives in arts and technology, modeled after the middle school magnet programs.

*Establishing an internship program for aspiring middle school principals.

To learn more
Go to www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org⁄info⁄msreform⁄
*Bringing in new mathematics and literacy content specialists.

*Using technology to make learning more interactive, including in afterschool and summer programs, which should be redesigned.

*Increasing the number of guidance counselors. The budget proposal recommends16 new middle school counselors.

*Establishing criteria for all schools to use in selecting a class schedule structure.

*Improving communication with parents and the community, including an academy to teach parents how to use school resources and help students learn.