Notes I decided to attend a Montgomery County School Board meeting for two reasons: 1. There is a possibility that I may move to this area within the next several years so I thought I might gain a perspective on the educational climate. 2. Most in the class probably attended meetings relatively close to the Stafford / Fredericksburg area, and I wanted to bring something new to the table. Due to scheduling confines and whatnot, however, I had to attend this meeting online.
Information About the Board + Meeting Regular session took place on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at the County Government Center in Christiansburg, Virginia. A closed session took place from 6:15pm – 7:37pm; the open session was from 7:37pm to almost 8:30pm. Members Chair: B. Wendell Jones – not present Vice Chair: Joseph T. Ivers Phyllis Albritton Penny Franklin Drema Foster – not present Jamie M. Bond Sarah Woosley Superintendent Brenda Blackburn was also present. Attendance was very limited to only several adults and presenters.
Order of Events Meeting was called to order, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Agenda for the meeting was adopted. Closed session Board members discussed these matters behind closed doors, however motions and voting took place in public. They voted on the expulsion / reinstatement of three students as well as the hiring of one personnel member. Open session began at 7:37pm. Certification & Public Address
Order of Events Continued Approval of Consent Items – these items were presented for the Board to approve; all were consented Field Trips (5) Community Foundation of he New River Valley Spring 2013 Grant Proposals (6) Montgomery County Educational Foundation Spring 2013 Grant Proposals (13) Personnel Report – Report depicting personnel changes within the county, includes resignations (there’s elementary positions open!) Payment of Bills – motioned, seconded and voted “Ay” to pay the bills (over $10 million)
Order of Events Continued Items for Discussion, Information and Action as presented by Superintendent Brenda Blackburn Proposed Grant – Montgomery County Prevention Partners Drug-Free Communities Project Adjustment of the School Calendar for 2013 Special Education Plan for SY 2013 – 14 Nine-Week Grading Period for Secondary Budget Update Textbook Adoption, Science grades 3-5 Governor’s STEM Academy, Presentation by Patricia Guadreau and Rick Weaver
Montgomery CountyPrevention Partners Drug-Free Communities Project Board was presented with grant proposal funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Totalling $126,969 per year for five years Purpose: continue community outreach and drug-use prevention throughout the schools. Motion carries, all present in favor
Adjustment of the 2012-2013School Calendar Due to inclement weather, MCPS will finish out the year with the current calendar at 178 days and over 1,023 instructional hours. The Code of Virginia requires 180 days or 990 instructional hours, with hours based on the shortest school day (elementary). It has been proposed that they move the last school day from Monday, June 3, 2013 to Friday, May 31, 2013; teacher work days will move as well. They will still be within code for instructional hours, at a total of 177 days, and 1,017.50 hours. There was a lot of discussion on this matter, even considering the idea of moving it to Thursday, May 30. But after deliberation and considering potential care needs for younger children, etc., May 31 was determined to be the ideal. Motion carries, all present in favor.
Special Education Plan forSY 2013-2014 The proposed Special Education Plan was presented and discussed in a previous meeting. No further discussion was had here before put to vote. Motion carries, all present in favor.
Nine-week Grading Periodfor Secondary Originally presented as information only. In March, 441 teachers, middle and high school, were surveyed on the potential moving from a 6-week grading period to a 9-week grading period. Of those 441 teachers, 95% (417) were in favor of the change. The Board decided to vote and move this to an action item. Motion carries, all in favor.
Budget Update Superintendent Brenda Blackburn gave a very brief update on the 2014 FY budget. Interestingly enough, MCPS has received $9.4 million fewer dollars from the state since 2007- 2008. They are banking on a $600,000 funding type this Fiscal Year. This was an information type and they will have further discussion on the budget in coming meetings.
Textbook Adoption, Grade3-5 Science The science textbooks for grades 3-5 have become outdated and over the course of 2011, teachers were given materials on several new options to test and review. The public had a chance to review the possible books in January 2012. A list of three books have been recommended and the purchase request will be submitted in a future meeting. Vice Chair Joe Ivers expressed his concerns at the fact that we are still using textbooks in the classroom. This spurred an conversation that was particularly interesting – how to handle the budget issues and restrictions while still keeping up with 21st century demands. In the end, Joe Ivers finished with saying that he wants to see every student have an iPad that they can take home and use for educational purposes.
Governor’s STEM AcademyPresentation MCPS has been working diligently on a proposal to the Virginia Department of Education to install a Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy in the schools. This is a very specialized course load that has a lot of elements. Capstone Project – Robotics building Emphasis on the sciences and programs for working once graduated Meant to increase interest in these areas. Working in cooperation with local colleges and universities (Radford, Virginia Tech, etc.) For more information, the entire presentation from Rick Weaver and Patricia Guadreau here. This was an information only item that will require much further discussion.
Order of Events Continued Unfinished Business There was no unfinished business. Board Retreat Discussed and reminded board members of the retreat to take place in the near future. New Business No new business Announcements No announcements Motion to adjourn; in favor by all present, adjourned before 8:30pm.
Final Thoughts I thought that this board meeting was the exception to the rule – it was incredibly short and with minimal money matters discussion. All of the members worked expediently and even moved an item from information to action, which I might have thought as unheard of. My expectations of what a board meeting consists of were completely destroyed. I found the board members to be interesting as well as interested in the schools. I thought the topics discussed were important as well as engaging. And I really look forward to seeing their STEM academy in action. It definitely reaffirms my hopes to teach in this district. I was also incredibly grateful that the meeting was taped and available online. I do wish that the camera angles had changed because viewing was only a little complicated by small views (hard to tell who was speaking).