Schools

Kensington Parkwood Elementary School

Impact of Covid

The pandemic continues to have the most significant impact on our schools this year.  There is a considerable uncertainty and frustration as parents, students, teachers, and the MCPS administration try to cope.  Several times, the administration has adjusted the criteria for determining whether specific schools should remain open. Here is the latest from the Interim Superintendent.

The KPES PTA has done an excellent job assisting parents, keep them informed about best practices and the latest status of school openings/closing, and even obtaining and distributing masks to students who need them.

Update 01/14/2022

MCPS Operating Budget 2023

Latest Update:

  • Excerpt from the Superintendent’s recommended budget: The Recommended FY 2023 Operating Budget totals $2,930,817,666. This budget recommendation is an increase of $148,719,843 (5.3 percent increase compared to FY2022).
  • The most detailed information (400+ pages) is on the MCPS budget homepage:  https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/budget/
  • A brief version is here.
  • And a one pager is here.

  • September 2021: MCPS has requested that the Council approve categorical transfers of $67.7 million for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) FY21 operating budget and $1.7 million for FY21 grant funds, as requested by the Board of Education. The transfers are needed because of increased expenditures in the new continuity of learning approach, extensive summer instruction, additional student instruction and enrichment in non-traditional school hours, and professional development and technology initiatives for remote learning. In addition, MCPS received approximately $422.0 million in relief funding related to the pandemic.

More Information:

information updated 10/04/2021

Walter Johnson/Woodward Expansion

Update by Emily Beckman, Parkwood Parent

As you may have seen while driving on Old Georgetown Road, construction has begun at the Woodward High School property.  The Woodward construction project has been broken up into two “Phases.”  Phase I, currently underway, involves construction of the main school building, but without a theater and auxiliary gym. 

After completion of Phase I, the new building is expected to be used as a holding school for Northwood High School while Phase II construction continues at Woodward and while major renovations are completed at the Northwood High School site on University Boulevard.  The Northwood occupancy of the Woodward site is planned for 2 years.   

Phase II construction plans for Woodward include the theater, auxiliary gym, and the playing fields and sports stadium.  Phase II construction plans were recently approved by the Board of Education.  It therefore appears that Woodward is on track to open as a new area high school in the fall of 2026. 

Construction of Woodward and Northwood at the same time, allowing for Woodward to re-open as a high school in fall 2026, will be costly. Advocacy may be needed in the future to keep the project on schedule and ensure that the facility is comparable to all other Montgomery County high schools.  In addition, the Phase II plans require the County Executive to deed over a small slice of county land to MCPS.  Any delay in that transfer of land could jeopardize the opening date or the field facilities at the new Woodward High School. 

No decision yet has been made regarding the catchment area for a re-opened Woodward High School.  The process for drawing such boundaries would be expected to start approximately 18 months before the school is scheduled to re-open.

Emily Beckman, Westbrook Lane 

Funding: State

Issue:  How to improve the Maryland school system and how much will it cost?

Background.  In 2016 the Maryland Legislature established the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education [aka the Kirwan Commission] to propose recommendations that would significantly improve the Maryland school system and make it one of the best in the world. The commission made a number of recommendations to achieve these goals, including:

  • Full day education for 3-year-olds from low-income households
  • Universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds
  • Better college and career readiness training
  • Higher salaries for teachers
  • Better teacher training
  • More resources for at-risk students
  • Transparent governance and accountability
  • More money for schools where many students live in poverty

These proposals are estimated to eventually cost $4 billion. They are sometimes referred to the “Blueprint for the Future”, and were incorporated into legislation in the 2020 session.

A companion measure introduced in the 2020 legislative session provided additional funds for school construction in the state; it included $400M for construction in Montgomery County. This measure was linked to the Kirwan recommendations and its passage was contingent on the passage of those recommendations.

During its 2020 session the Maryland legislature passed bills that approved the commission’s recommendations and also provided the additional funds for school construction.  The governor vetoed these bills after the legislature adjourned. 

Latest Update: 

  • During its 2021 session that concluded in April, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Kirwan commission recommendations over the governor’s previous veto in 2020.

More Information:

information added 12/07/2020


MCPS Boundary Study

Current Walter Johnson Cluster Boundary (from MCPS Interactive Boundary Explorer)

Issue:  How to balance school capacity and also improve diversity in the schools. 

Background. The Board of Education [BoE] states that “The overcapacity of many schools, paired with a continued focus on equity and excellence, [has] prompted the Board of Education to initiate an assessment of current school boundaries to ensure that MCPS can continue to provide high-quality facilities that support the educational programming needed to reinforce its core values of Learning, Relationships, Respect, Excellence and Equity .”

This assessment [aka “the boundary study”] has become a polarizing issue for many in the county.  T­hose opposed are especially concerned that their children will be bussed out of their neighborhood school districts and assigned to schools that they regard as less desirable. Some citizens who do not have children in the school system are opposed to the study because they believe that changes in boundaries could cause a drop in property values. This opposition has resulted in push-back from those who think more integration is a good thing both for the county and for students.

Latest Update: 

  • MCPS releases the nearly 200-page final report publicly. The report says MCPS could make more progress toward its ideals for school enrollment if it considered redistricting up to 10% of students throughout the county. As expected, it does not recommend any specific boundary changes, but provides insight and guidance for evaluating different factors. It “provides a framework for understanding what may be possible through a comprehensive districtwide boundary plan,” the report says. In interviews following the report’s release, some school board members say there are no plans to jump into comprehensive redistricting any time soon.
  • School board members have said no immediate, large-scale changes are planned, but the analysis will be used to guide community-level boundary studies as they emerge.Some members have also said the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on districtwide enrollment, which has dipped, will also need to be considered as part of the next steps.

More Information:

information added 05/18/2021

School Security

Issue: How to ensure safety in the schools. At the start of the 2021-2022 school the County Executive decided to eliminate the School Resource Officer [SRO] program, which placed police officers in county schools.  However, violent incidents in schools have increased recently, leading to a new approach agreed to by MCPS and the Police Department. The question is whether this will be adequate.

Latest Update:

  • May 2022:School Safety.  Because of a recent increase in violence in the schools, MCPS and the County’s Police Department have signed an agreement that brings back police officers into schools in a limited form — they will not be patrolling hallways and will only have a designated space near the front office or administrative areas. The officers, known as community engagement officers, will not be in those spaces for long periods, instead checking in at high schools and other schools in each cluster.
  • January, 2022. Because of a shooting at Magruder High School, the MC Chief of Police said that he and the Interim Superintendent of the MCPS are reviewing the community engagement program to determine if it needs to be adjusted to ensure that the MC schools are safe. See this Bethesda Beat interview with the Chief.
  • August 25, 2021, from the Washington Post:  After a vigorous, years-long debate over racial equity and student safety in Maryland’s largest school system, the County Executive has decided to eliminate the School Resource Officer [SRO] program, which placed police officers in county schools.  Instead, groups of police called “community engagement officers” will be patrolling the areas around schools.  The officers may be told by the department’s central dispatch system to respond to incidents on campus when necessary, but they will not be in direct communication with school officials.
  • County Public Schools interim superintendent Monifa McKnight said Wednesday that the county plans to use part of the $112 million that it received from the American Rescue Plan to hire 50 new social workers who could be deployed to schools as early as this fall. The proposal is currently pending approval by the state, she said.
  • Councilmember Rice, long an advocate of SROs, has announced his thinking has “evolved” and has said “said he no longer thinks police should be in schools but still believes that the county’s police department is one of the best in the country. He doesn’t agree with “defund the police,” he said, but thinks officers need to be much more severely disciplined for misconduct.
  • 03-05-2021: Councilmember Navarro has proposed an amendment intended as a compromise between the competing council bills.
  • 02-02-2021: County lawmakers have introduced competing measures on this issue; so have state legislatures. The county and state proposals also differ from each other. See this article in the Bethesda Beat
  • Some students have also testified before the County about SROs.
  • 01-13-2021: After receiving a report from MCPS Superintendent Smith regarding the SRO program, the school board decided to seek more information and delayed a decision on the program until May 2021. See this article from Bethesda Beat

updated 05/23/2022

Board of Education Election – 2022

Issue: Board members for District 1, District 3, District 5, and one At-Large seat will be up for election in 2022. Candidates must live in the district for which they are running. However, county residents may vote for a candidate for every district and for the At-Large seat. Parkwood is in District 3. Board of Education district boundaries only affect BoE candidates. They do not affect schools, students or voters. See the forthcoming PRA Elections page for a list of BoE candidates.

Updated 01/30/2022

MCPS Sustainability Plan

School policies.  According to the Bethesda Beat, The Montgomery County school board is considering updating its sustainability policy, with an “extremely aggressive” goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in five years. The target would align with the county’s “climate action plan” unveiled in June by County Executive Marc Elrich. 

Updated 01/30/2022