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Friday, December 31, 2010

Budget Video is Live!

I've finished my video on the budget! I've also included information about the Superintendent Search and the cell phone pilot. You can watch it here:

More Budget Facts

After some reading, I wrote up a list of important things you guys should know about this year's budget.

·         FY 2012 Proposed Operating Budget
o   $2.163 billion, increase of $59.6 million or 2.8% from FY 2011 $2.104 billion
·         Revenue sources in FY 2011
o   Revenue from county: 67.3%
o   Revenue from state: 23.2%
o   Revenue from federal government: 5.7%
o   Other: 3.8%
·         Change in revenue sources in FY 2012
o   Revenue from county: $1.497 billion, up from $1.415 billion (69.2%)
o   Revenue from state: $516 million, up from $488.6 million (23.86%)
o   Revenue from federal government: $65.56 million, down from $119.06 million (3.03%)
§  Loss of almost $54 million in federal stimulus aid
o   Other: 3.91%
·         Enrollment increase
o   Officially, there are 144,064 students
o   Projected 2012 enrollment of 146,649 – an increase of 2,585 students
·         Expenditures
o   Instructional Programs: 80.5%
o   School Support: 14.6%
o   System-wide Support: 2.3%
o   Miscellaneous (including Food Service): 2.6%
·         Reductions and Savings
o   No across-the-board class size increase
·         Maintenance of Effort
o   State law requiring county to provide local funding at least equal to the same amount last year per student
o   FY 2012 requirement is $10,664 per student
o   MCPS received a MOE waiver last year
o   County Council is the school system’s funding body – the BOE can’t tax
o   This year’s MOE requirement is $1.497 billion
o   If the County Council does not fund us at MOE, we face a penalty of up to $27 million in loss of increased state aid
·         Dr. Weast’s Recommended Budget – not definite
·         The Board of Education is holding Public Hearings on the budget on January 12th and 19th, 2011

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

American Math Scores

A while back, the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released. This test measures the performance of 15-year-olds in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. The results of American children can be found here

The following is an article by The Washington Post's Jay Matthews about U.S. test scores. 

Are math scores lagging because U.S. parents are clueless?
By Jay Mathews
I stumbled across one of those charming surveys with too small a sample to depend on, but a result interesting enough -- and close enough to possible -- to blog on anyway. It suggests that the kids in Singapore are stealing our lunch money in the race for math supremacy because their parents hire tutors far more often than we do, and because their parents have a less inflated sense of their math skills than U.S. parents do.

The survey of 1,114 parents of children ages 10-14 was conducted in 2010 by a team of researchers working for the Raytheon Co. and a Boston firm called Eduventures Inc. There were only 561 parents from the United States, 311 from England and 272 from Singapore participating, but the researchers apparently felt that gave them at least a faint suggestion of what might explain the fact that Singapore students’ average math scores are significantly above those of U.S. students. What do you think?

In Singapore, the researchers said, 42 percent of parents report the use of tutors for math help, compared with 10 percent of parents in the United States.
That doesn't mean those American 10- to 14-year-olds aren't getting extra help with their math homework. Seventy-seven percent of U.S. parents said family members helped the children, usually about one or two hours a week.

Let's give a cheer for involved parents before we review the evidence suggesting that mom and dad may not be the best tutors, or the best judges of the worth of their assistance. More than half said they "believe they have high ability to help their children with fractions, division, and math word problems." Seventy-two percent said they "know the level of math education my child needs to succeed in college."

The researchers, phrasing their conclusions gently, said: "Evidence suggests U.S. parents may be overly confident or lacking in the use of accurate metrics around math performance and college preparedness. For example, 78 percent of U.S. parents report their children's math performances are in the top 20 percent compared to peers in school."

There is more bad news for us otherwise good-hearted American parents, proud of our kids and eager to help. The researchers discovered that 51 percent of Singapore parents had received instruction from educators about how to help their children with math. In the United States and England, only 25 percent of parents reported receiving similar instruction.

About a third of Singapore students had participated in math competitions, the parents reported. Only 20 percent of the English parents and 9 percent of the American parents said the same.
U.S. educators appear to think that our kids need more help in math, as well as other subjects. Parents agree. Now we have to figure out if the help we are giving them is really helping much.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Superintendent Search

The Board of Education has hired the firm Hazard, Young, Attea, & Associates to conduct its Superintendent Search. Our website for the search is located here.

The timeline below shows how the search will be conducted. Right now, we're still very early in the process. However, I'd like to know what characteristics you guys would value in your future superintendent, and what priorities you think he or she should have. Send me an email at, or leave a comment! I'll be updating the blog periodically to discuss our progress in the search.


Quick Budget Facts

In anticipation of my upcoming budget video, here's some facts about the Superintendent's FY 2012 Recommended Operating Budget:

- No new services or initiatives
- No across-the-board class size increases
- No Cost of Living Increases (COLAs) for employees for the 3rd year in a row
- MCPS employees have agreed to forgo COLAs for the past two years, and voted to give up step increases last year - saving us $115 million annually
- Meets Maintenance of Effort: state law requiring the county to fund education at the same per-student level of $10,664 from FY 2010 (because MOE was waived during FY 2011)
- If the county doesn't fund the budget at MOE, MCPS will likely be penalized with the loss of  $28 million in increased state aid
- 2.8% budget increase ($59.6 million) to account for a 2.3% growth in enrollment and loss of federal stimulus funds
- Loss of $54 million in funds from the federal stimulus package, leaving us a "funding cliff"
- Currently, the number of students considered Limited English Proficient is 18,793
- The number of students receiving Free or Reduced-Price Meals (FARMS) is at 45,196 - nearly one-third of MCPS students
- MCPS was named a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the highest presidential honor an American organization can receive for performance excellence through innovation, improvement, and visionary leadership
- MCPS was selected as a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which recognizes large school systems that have improved student performance while narrowing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic achievement gaps

That's all for now - keep an eye out for my video!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Hey everyone,

If you haven't already seen it, here's the SMOB Tumblr:

It's a compilation of pictures from everyday school life, and we're hoping to expand it and make it a part of the blog as well.

Have a fun winter break!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Senator Madaleno Proposes Maryland Dream Act

From the Gazette article entitled "Feds drop ball; Madaleno prepares to introduce state Dream Act" published December 20th, 2010 by staff writer Sarah Breitenbach:

After the U.S. Senate failed to pass a plan this weekend that could give undocumented students access to citizenship through military service or higher education, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. announced his plan to bring similar legislation to Maryland.

Madaleno (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington, announced Monday that he plans to introduce his version of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act when the General Assembly convenes in January. If passed, the bill would enable students who graduated from Maryland high schools or served in the military to receive resident-rate tuition at public universities and colleges.

His version of the legislation, while unable to offer citizenship, a federal responsibility, will mirror a bill introduced by Sen. David C. Harrington (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly in 2009.

Giving immigrants access to higher education and a path to citizenship improves communities and would come at little cost to the state, Madaleno said.

"My impression from the conversations I've had with people in the immigrant community is they're just not going to school," he said. "They're not able to pay the out-of-state- rate. If there were a revenue loss, I think it would be so tiny, it would be minimal."

The Maryland legislature passed a version of the Dream Act in 2003, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Ten states have passed laws allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.

"We want to certainly maximize the potential of every person in our state and if it's helping them go to college, I think that's a good thing," Madaleno said, "especially if that's encouraging them to find a path to at least being documented."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Operating Budget Presentation

Superintendent Dr. Jerry Weast presented his proposed Operating Budget this Wednesday, December 15th at Richard Montgomery HS.

He has recommended a $2.163 billion budget that complies with Maintenance of Effort. This is an increase of $59.6 million, or 2.8% from the FY 2011 budget. It is important to remember that this budget requires additional local funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funds (ARRA).

It is projected that we will have 3,340 additional students in FY 2012, and an increase of $17.2 million is used to cover these costs. However, there are no new initiatives or programs. In addition, there will be no across-the-board class size increase.

To read the Budget in Brief, click here.
To read the full budget, click here. It is a very large file and may take a long time to load/may crash your computer.

If you have any questions about the budget, don't hesitate to send me an email at

A final note: I will be creating a short, 1 minute video about the budget in the next several weeks. It will be sent out to all MCPS middle and high schools in January. An in-depth blog post about the budget is also coming up!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bus Fees Bill Dropped

Today, Senator Madaleno (D - District 18) announced his withdrawal of proposed local bill MC 10-11.