2096 Gaither Road,Ste. 204
                         Rockville, MD  20850

                                               September 6, 2006

Mr. George Leventhal, President
Montgomery County Council
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear Mr. Leventhal:

The Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) is very pleased to submit
this response to your letter of July 27, 2006, requesting stakeholder
input on county budget priorities for FY 2008.

MCCPTA’s mission is to speak for children and without question our
highest budget priority is education.  Throughout the summer the MCCPTA
executive committee met with PTA leaders in each of the school system’s
six quad-cluster areas.  We listened to their concerns and their
priorities and this letter draws from those meetings and our 2005-06
advocacy priorities.

Parents are most concerned with increasing the academic achievements of
all students.  Investments in early education at our elementary schools,
including all day kindergarten and lowered class size, have resulted in
well publicized gains in literacy and mathematics among our elementary
students.  Similar investments must now extend into middle school
reforms that offer increased academic rigor, highly qualified teachers,
and lower class sizes.  This includes investment in programs such as the
special education hours based staffing model that staffs based on
services required rather than a head count and lowered general education
class sizes to allow schools to successfully mainstream more students
under the least restrictive environment model.

MCCPTA supports increased funding for educational programs and
initiatives to stem the tide of youth violence in schools and classrooms
that range from bullying to recruitment into gangs with special
attention at the middle school level. One way to do this is to provide
meaningful and interesting after school programs both through MCPS and
through the County’s Department of Recreation. In June, 2000, the
Departments of Education and Justice jointly authored a report on the
benefits of after school programs that highlighted juvenile crime
peaking after school hours between the hours of 2 p.m. to 6 pm.  It is
imperative that all school communities be afforded comprehensive
programming that extends beyond the traditional school day, to keep
children from engaging in risky behavior and to keep them on the right
track in developing better social skills, increasing academic
performance, and staying safe.

There is a growing focus on secondary literacy, which along with the
need for future graduates to pass the High School Assessments (HSAs),
will require funding for literacy coaches, teacher training on how to
embed literacy into content areas, and remediation efforts to raise the
performance of under performing students.

A significant minority achievement gap still exists across the county as
do gaps related to poverty.  Programs and initiatives to address these
gaps are needed from early childhood to high school.

Parent community outreach is of vital importance in Montgomery County to
tear down the barriers that impede parents’ ability to become involved
in their child’s education.  While the school system has increased its
ability to translate central office publications, local schools are
struggling to communicate with the families of their students. There is
a need for improved translation services available at the local school
level and a great need for school based bilingual outreach personnel.
Parent Community Outreach Coordinators provide crucial links between the
school and home of limited- or non-English speaking parents.

MCCPTA believes that every child should attend school in a safe, clean,
healthy, and modern school facility.  The FY 2007 budget increased
funding for several categories of building maintenance and
infrastructure.  The needs are still great in this area and we support
increased funding to eliminate maintenance backlogs, to use the
flattening of enrollment growth as an opportunity to put all of our
children into permanent buildings rather than “temporary” learning
cottages, and to accelerate the modernizations of our facilities.

Parents and school communities are increasingly concerned with how the
school system is spending and allocating budgeted dollars to their
programs and services. MCCPTA supports the Council's funding of two
added positions to give more oversight to the Montgomery County Public
system's budget.

We thank the council for their long-standing support of public education
and look forward to working together in a productive partnership during
this budget cycle.


      Jane de Winter
      President, MCCPTA