Testimony before the Board of Education on the
Montgomery County Public Schools Strategic Plan and
FY2008 Operating Budget
October 12, 2006

The Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) is pleased to have this
opportunity to offer comments on behalf of its 51,000 members regarding
the MCPS Strategic Plan and the FY2008 Operating Budget.

As you know, the strategic plan is more than 60 pages long and it is
impossible to give detailed comments in three minutes.  Consequently,
tonight I will touch on some of our highest priorities based on our
advocacy priorities and meetings with PTA leaders across the county.

Goal One:       Success for Every Student

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 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.

We continue to support broadening the scope of the strategic plan to
provide more and varied alternatives in least restrictive environment
and efforts to address continuing special education achievement gaps.

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.

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.  There is a need for improved translation
services available at the local school level and a great need for school
based bilingual outreach personnel.


Goal Two:       Provide an Effective Instructional Program

MCCPTA supports the 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 and remediation
efforts to raise the performance of under performing students and to
reduce the number of academically ineligible students.

We support increased opportunities for science and social science
instruction at the elementary level and improved curriculum guides to
provide sequenced and systematic higher level gifted and talented
curriculum in math, reading/language arts, science and social science in
middle schools.

Goal Three:     Strengthen Productive Partnerships for Education

MCCPTA supports efforts to help schools build their capacity for
outreach and support to parents.  We believe outreach efforts are most
effective when they come from the local school rather than the central
office.

We note that the strategic plan contains no specific goal, nor
implementation strategy for improving partnerships with PTAs and MCCPTA.

Goal Four:      Create a Positive Work Environment in a Self-Renewing
Organization

MCCPTA supports efforts to ensure that middle schools have highly
qualified teachers in all content areas and training for secondary
teachers on how to embed literacy instruction into content areas.

Goal Five:      Provide High-Quality Business Services that are Essential to
the Educational Success of Students

MCCPTA supports many of the services described within this goal such as
Wellness/obesity prevention, IAQ teams, and building our physical
capacity to reduce the number of portables.

We ask that MCPS and the Board use the design and implementation of a
new financial information system as an opportunity to provide more
budget information and increased transparency to the MCPS budget so that
stakeholders can see how various budget initiatives will impact their
own schools and programs, as well as track categorical shifts in
budgeted dollars within a fiscal year.

Finally, while we welcome this chance to comment on the Strategic Plan
and provide information on our operating budget priorities during the
planning process, we in no way believe that this input is a substitute
for individual cluster testimony once the FY2008 Operating Budget is
developed and released.  Until dollars are attached to programs, we
cannot fully comment on the trade-offs inherent in any budget.