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Gaithersburg residents discuss pros and cons of closing Kelley Park

  • Published in Local

Gaithersburg logoGAITHERSBURG — On March 22, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the recommendation from the Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith to construct a new elementary school on the grounds of Kelley Park which abuts the Saybrooke neighborhood of Gaithersburg.

As the park is city-owned property, Mayor Jud Ashman and the Gaithersburg City Council will have to give final approval for the school construction.

The proposal has provoked mixed reactions from city residents. While some feel that the school would benefit the city and relieve overcrowding, others fear that it would deprive the surrounding neighborhoods of a valuable community space and negatively impact their quality of life.

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The New Normal is neither

Nimah Nayel 2Today’s “New Normal,” isn’t new and it isn’t normal.
Sixteen-year-old baccalaureate student Nimah Nayel is a victim of the old racism and hate, long existent and awful in its scope.
This vile hatred, the antithesis of the American Spirit stayed dormant and seemingly was swept away into the dustbin of history where it belongs until the minions of Donald Trump took his racist and hate-filled rhetoric primetime and brought back the hatred with a vengeance.

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BOE to spend more for safety

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MoCo BOEROCKVILLE — In light of recent shootings at schools in Parkland, Florida and St. Mary’s County, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said he plans to ask for more funding to increase security at schools.

While officials from the Montgomery County Board of Education said they were already in the process of updating security at schools recent school shootings have made administrators reevaluate school’s security needs.

As County school officials were in the process of reviewing schools’ safety infrastructure, training for staff and violence prevention programs, they said the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County gave them pause.

“One thing we feel that we have to do is, in light of the tragedies Florida and St. Mary’s, go back out to our schools again and do another assessment – a facility assessment – both school facilities as well as non-school facilities,” said Andrew Zuckerman, chief operating officer for Montgomery County Public Schools.

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Montgomery BOE approves new boundaries

  • Published in Local

MoCo BOEROCKVILLE — The Montgomery County Board of Education voted Monday night to approve new boundaries for the Richard Montgomery High School cluster to address enrollment at the fifth elementary school in the cluster, which is slated to open next year. 

The Board considered five proposed options to redraw the zoning boundaries. Option B, which was ultimately approved by the Board, calls for the reassigning students in zones currently served by Beall Elementary, College Gardens Elementary, and Ritchie Park Elementary – all of which are operating at over 120 percent capacity – to the as-yet-unnamed school currently designated as “Richard Montgomery Elementary School Number Five.”  Enrollment and zoning will be unchanged at Twinbrook Elementary, which is also over capacity, but to a smaller degree than the other three schools.

“Obviously, this school has been much needed and much desired by the community, and we're all very thankful to have the school,” said MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith at the beginning of the meeting.

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Two more candidates file for County Council

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Dalbin Osorio (Democrat)

New York born social worker Dalbin Osorio filed to join the race to replace out going District-1 Council member Roger Berliner last week.

Osorio said he decided to run for County Council because there needs to be more people who are the ground level and are personally affected by the issues facing the County representing people in local government.

“I noticed there was a lack of representation for people who had actually done the direct work that politicians and their policies usually impact,” Osorio said.

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Board of Education discusses restorative justice

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MoCo BOE

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Board of Education discussed restorative justice April 22 as part of an effort to improve student relations and reduce suspensions and other punitive measures.

“Restorative justice really is about a change in mindset from one in which we think the only way to address issues that students may present in school is through the use of student code of conduct,” said Dr. Jonathan Brice, an Associate Superintendent at the MCPS Office of Student and Family Support Engagement.

Discussing the numerous advantages of restorative justice techniques, Brice emphasized that the approach allows students to learn social and emotional skills by understanding harm that can be caused by certain kinds of behavior.

“We’re changing a mindset from wrongdoing and misbehavior on one where there are opportunities to learn about social and emotional skills like empathy and compassion and to really repair the harm that has been done in the school community,” said Brice.

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Snow days could lengthen public school year

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MoCo BOE

The Board of Education voted to adopt its calendar for next school year at a meeting Tuesday, including two possible makeup days during spring break for “snow days.” 

School board president Michael Durso (District 5) said the school board members wanted to give families extra notice about the calendar.

“We understand how important it is for our families to have a calendar as soon as possible to begin planning their year,” said Durso.

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Union says budget cuts harm food programs

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Funding the school system over the minimum required by state law for the first time in seven years is far from saving Montgomery County Public Schools from financial woe, according to a MCPS union.

Members of SEIU Local 500, a union for support staff in MCPS, told the Montgomery County Board of Education Thursday that schools are short-staffed and students are underserved as a result of budget cuts.

Dozens of schools routinely have problems such as: students skipping school-provided meals, student tardiness or absences when a bus driver is sick and students learning in dirty classrooms because staff ran out of time to clean them.

“The kids (who) are not eating the lunch are the ones who need it most, which are the kids who are on low income," said Walter Johnson High School Cafeteria Manager Leshia Murray, who also works at Argyle Middle School. “A lot of these kids only eat at school.” 

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Six Board of Education candidates vie for three seats

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BOE Candidates for 3 seatsAbove, left to right - Phil Kauffman, Jeanette Dixon and Rebecca Smondrowski. Bottom row - Brandon Rippeon, Angie Reed Phukan and Shebra Evans. 

Three Montgomery County Board of Education slots are up for election this year and six candidates will be listed on the ballot, two for each slot, in the At Large, District 4 and District 6 races.

School board elections are non-partisan. Each term lasts four years.

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