Montgomery County Taxpayers League

The Voice of Taxpayers of Montgomery County, Maryland

February 28, 2013 – Janette Gilman

 

February 28, 2013 – Janette Gilman

 MCTL Meeting of February 28, 2013:

Our questions (sent to her in advance) and MCCPTA President Janette Gilman’s responses at the meeting:

1. How does the MCCPTA define “full funding” for MCPS?  What would you consider the “floor” for the MCPS budget?   


2. What is MCCPTA’s role in determining the MCPS budget?  Is there a tripartite budget committee (MCPS – Unions- MCCPTA) that negotiates and approves the budget prior to its release? Have there been any instances where the MCCPTA did not agree with the MCPS and Union proposals or are you in lock step with them?  


3. There are no targets in either the MCPS budget or the MCPS strategic plan for reducing the achievement gap?  Does the MCCPTA support an “equity” budget where funding allocations would favor those schools that have disproportionately high African-American, Hispanic and FARMS concentrations with relatively low performance outcomes? How confident is the MCCPTA that the placement of teachers is strategically determined? What is the MCCPTA position on allocating our most highly-paid, senior and most experienced teachers to red zone schools where the achievement gap is most pronounced?  


4. What is the MCCPTA position on sharing administrative services with the Montgomery County Government – services such as procurement, IT, human resources, etc.?  Are you confident that the costs related to these duplicate  administrative entities are justified and are not stealing resources from the classroom? 


5. Montgomery County has acquired a reputation for the quality of its public schools.  What does the MCCPTA consider the top 3 performance indicators for the success of its students?  How do these indicators compare with Howard and Fairfax counties?

          

Notes from the MCTL meeting of February 28, 2013

 Following are comments made by Ms. Gilman:

The MCCPTA had just had a presentation on the proposed budget, so this meeting is very timely. She also said she is a member of MCTL.

1. She prefaced her remarks by saying that the bylaws of the MCCPTA prohibit her from speaking on some subjects. She would not address any topics for which MCCPTA did not have enough information.

PTAs operate in nearly all the county’s 180 schools but not so much in the special schools. There are 43,000 members representing all county PTAs. The MCCPTA has 9 standing committees. Only the state PTA—not the county—can charter a new PTA. It is difficult to keep all PTAs functioning.

New MCCPTA officers take office each May. The nine MCCPTA vice-presidents oversee the same area as the MCPS area superintendents. At various meetings parents have said the MCPS needs to better implement Curriculum 2.0. The parents like the program but are not happy at how it is being implemented. Another $2 million has been added to the budget to train teachers on its implementation. Another big issue with parents is technology: Some schools have it, others do not. Some technology improvements are funded by parent groups resulting in inequalities.

School capacity—overcrowding—is also an issue with parents but class size is not.  


2. MCCPTA creates its priorities for the MCPS operating budget, then presents them to the individual PTAs, which vote.

MCCPTA is represented during the deliberations in the formulation of each new MCPS budget. It is there where MCCPTA makes its priorities known. However, MCCPTA takes no part in negotiations with unions. One high priority is closing the “achievement gap”. Superintendent Starr is pushing this issue but it is not easy to solve.

MCCPTA also wants police officers in every one of the county high schools.

The MCCPTA does not get involved in funding issues; it is not important where the money comes from, be it county, state or Federal resources. Nor does it address how effective the various programs are or set any kind of performance measures. MCCPTA is there to put forth the views of the parents.   


3. Concerning the achievement gap, MCCPTA has no position on giving bonuses to entice teachers to teach in under-performing schools.

An attendee commented that if the MCPS employee benefits were the same as those for county employees, MCPS would accrue substantial savings, which then could be directed to improving the achievement gap.

Another attendee suggested that there should be a per-school salary ceiling, which would result in every school having a mix of new and veteran teachers.

Each principal hires his or her own staff; those decisions are not made by the Superintendent. Average teacher tenure in schools in the eastern part of the county is lower than in the western part. Teacher turnover is greatest during the first 5 years of their career.

An MCTL study has shown that teachers in the “red zone” are paid 4% less than those in the “green zone”.

There is a shortage of male African-American teachers not only in the county but also nationwide. Strategies to overcome the achievement gap are varied based on the characteristics of each school.

Many individual PTAs partner with PTAs at other schools. MCCPTA has never done an analysis of PTA fund-raisers. Some schools have fund-raising activities; others don’t.  


4. Over the past few years MCPS has made $400 million in cuts, mostly in front office costs.   


5. As for performance indicators of school success, MCCPTA just looks at performance not indicators. It looks at what is best for every child and favors better funding for pre-school breakfast for example. MCCPTA believes that Superintendent Starr is determined to close the achievement gap