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Hogan sets up scholarship fund to offset community college tuition

  • Published in State

Maryland SealA recently-passed Maryland law will make attending community college more affordable for state residents.

Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed a bill that will help cover the cost of tuition for some state residents attending community colleges. The bill allocates $15 million in state funding to provide scholarships up to $5,000 for students whose family earn less than $150,000 a year or for adults with an income of $100,000 a year or less.

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School graduation rates vary across the County

  • Published in Local

MCPS logoMontgomery County public schools officials brag about its high school graduation rates that are higher than the state average, but that is only partially true, according to a new state report posted online last month. 

MCPS officials boasted that the county high school graduation rate for the adjusted 4-year cohort was 89.5 percent, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points from 2016, but which was higher than the state average. 

However, nine of Montgomery County's 25 high schools' graduation rates dipped below the state graduation rate, which officials measure in terms of the “four-year cohort.”

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County school enrollment is “flattening”

  • Published in Local

MCPS logoThe superintendent of schools said the rate of student enrollment increase in Montgomery County Public Schools seems to be “flattening,” based on enrollment counts this year.

MCPS Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith said at the Jan. 25 County Board of Education budget work session that staff predicts enrollment will increase by 1800 or 1900 students for the 2018-2019 school year, a drop from the projection included in the proposed budget in December. 

Staff predicted a 2,472- student increase from the current fiscal year’s budget (161,302 students) for a total number of 163,774 students enrolled at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, according to Smith’s proposed budget.

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Two MoCo schools have a longer school year

  • Published in Local

In an effort to stop students from forgetting much of what they learned during their summer break, Montgomery County Public Schools has chosen two elementary schools in Silver Spring to see if a longer school year, and therefore a shorter summer break, will lessen any backsliding.

In a pilot program that is expected to start in the 2018-2019 school year, students at Arcola and Roscoe Nix elementary schools will attend school from September 2018 through much of July 2019. 

The school year will be extended by four to six weeks, said MCPS spokesman Derek Turner.

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Focus on Foundation

  • Published in Local

MCPS budget plan means cuts – but not at students’ expense

MCPS logoThe Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent proposed a $2.59 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2019, an increase of $67.3 million from the $2.52 billion FY 2018 budget.

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said he prioritized in his budget helping student performance and supporting schools.

“My budget recommendation focuses on the foundational elements of our district – students, classrooms and schools,” Smith said. “This budget addresses increasing enrollment, rising costs and critical investments to both maintain the level of academic excellence our schools are known for and to close the gaps in access, opportunity and achievement for students who have yet to meet their potential.”

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Berliner says “NO” to cuts in education while Leggett mulls options

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — No program is safe from cuts as the County seeks to mitigate the effects of a projected budget shortfall next fiscal year, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said.

Last week Leggett announced that the County officials were anticipating a large unexpected budget shortfall, and asked that each County agency consider cutting two percent of their budget.

The sudden shortfall caught County finance analysts and council members by surprise as they based their $5.4 billion budget for the fiscal year 2018 off of much greater revenue projections.

"For me, everything is on the table, and you try to work through the particular details," Leggett said of the coming budget cuts.

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Board of Education discuss implementation of national education law

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Board of Education discussed its role in implementing federal education legislation.

Members of the board discussed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a law passed by the U.S. Congress in December 2015 as a successor to the previous No Child Left Behind Act.

ESSA requires that states implement a recording and accountability system to assess the academic performance of counties and schools. Maryland and Montgomery County are currently in the process of deciding how to implement the law.

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BOE Talk Equal Opportunity in Schools

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Board of Education discussed access and equal opportunity in the county’s schools system Tuesday.

“We want to make sure that our students have opportunities, and what we found in implementing this program is that we were missing kids who had the capability, the interest in participating in advanced placement and as well as IB courses,” said Deputy Superintendent Kimberly Statham.

In 2016, Montgomery County Public Schools partnered with Equal Opportunity Schools, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap, to analyze and address disparities in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate enrollment. The study showed that students enrolled in AP and IB courses showed higher chances of graduation from high school than those not enrolled in either type of course.

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Trone speaks at local BBQ on his new bid for Congress

  • Published in State

David TroneDavid Trone speaks at a Smokey Glen Barbecue. PHOTO BY CAROLYN KOMATSOULIS   At a barbecue at Smokey Glen to promote his run for the 6th congressional district, David Trone called to mind his simple farm beginnings and progressive ideas in the hopes of his message resonating with Maryland voters.

“You know I’m in a farm, we learned a couple of things, most important thing is hard work,” said Trone. “What we do on that farm, whether it was shoveling chicken manure, literally 13 tons of manure every day, that would be good practice in Washington.”

“We also did a lot of time feeding hogs. That could be good practice in Washington too,” said Trone.

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Interfaith Works opening

  • Published in Local

The daily shoulder-to-shoulder throngs of people waiting for Interfaith Works Clothing Center in Rockville to open its doors each morning is finally a thing of the past. With Monday’s ribbon-cutting, the nonprofit that provides low-income families with free clothing, linen and other items now operates out of a larger and much cheerier, sunlit space.

The center will continue to operate in the former Edward W. Broome Junior High School, which still has the dank look and smell of a high school gym. However, everything has moved upstairs, where there is more space and even windows.

There, director Monica Barberis-Young along with the center’s small staff and 1,000 volunteers take the mounds of donated clothes, shoes and household items and sort them.

Everyone who qualifies, mostly due to low-income levels, is welcome to fill a large blue bag of items and carry out one large item once a month.

The clothing center that helped 13,500 people last year also is adding to its services and now will also offer its clients help with their legal, medical, housing and educational needs.

“In as rich a county as this,” there often are 50 or 60 families waiting for the center to open its doors Tuesdays through Saturdays, Barberis-Young said.

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