Nancy Floreen's Montgomery in Focus, October 2015

Report: MCPS Staffing and Resources

school bus

We recently received a report from the Office of Legislative Oversight describing school funding and allocation patterns within Montgomery County Public Schools. The report, titled Resources and Staffing among MCPS Schools, compares differences in class size, staff tenure, per pupil expenditures and teacher salary costs between MCPS’ schools with the highest rates of free and reduced priced meals and those with the lowest FARMS rates. The report also examines the additional state and federal revenue that MCPS receives and budgets for ESOL and compensatory education programs that serve these two student subgroups.

The achievement gap between poor and middle class or wealthy students remains one of the most important and most intractable problems within our otherwise excellent education system in Montgomery County. I’m grateful to the Office of Legislative Oversight for its in-depth look at the resources allocated to resolving this long-standing issue. The findings raise some complex questions that I encourage the Board of Education to consider seriously.

Each year, the Board of Education asks the County Council for additional funding over Maintenance of Effort to meet the needs of its increasingly diverse and low-income student enrollment. According to the OLO report, though, MCPS only allocated two-thirds of the $151 million it received in additional federal and state aid for low-income students to compensatory education programs designed to meet their learning needs. That leaves $47 million in funds designed to close the gap unaccounted for. Why should the County Council ask taxpayers to chip in more resources for closing the achievement gap when MCPS hasn’t used all the money it already has precisely for that purpose?

MCPS notes in its response to the report that using $47 million in compensatory education funding for non-compensatory education programs is legal under state law. I don’t question whether it is legal, but I question whether it is morally right given the persistence of the achievement gap between poor and non-poor students in MCPS. What could MCPS have done for under-achieving students if the $47 million had been spent exclusively on compensatory programs? MCPS claims that it must use the $47 million in compensatory funding for other programs in order to maintain the high quality of instruction across the County. Does MCPS really need to tap this relatively small resource when the total MCPS budget is $2.3 billion? Where is the nearly two and a half billion dollars going if not to instruction across the County?

These are serious questions, and I look forward to working with MCPS on serious solutions. I thank the Office of Legislative Oversight for its hard work on the report.

Open Water Triple Crown Winner

Nancy Floreen, Jim Clifford, Carol Clifford and Sidney Katz

What a treat it was to present a County Council Proclamation to Jim Clifford, who became the world's oldest person to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming when he swam across the English Channel in ten hours, three minutes. The Open Water Triple Crown consists of three swims--21 miles across the English Channel, 20 miles across the Catalina Channel and 28 miles around Manhattan Island. At age 63, Jim broke the record for the fastest swim across the English Channel in the over 50 age category. He completed the Catalina Channel swim in nine hours, 49 minutes and the Manhattan Island swim in nine hours, 30 minutes. What an amazing accomplishment.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Nancy Floreen

To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, the Council held a special event on “The Current State of the Latino Community in Montgomery County,”  which included a panel discussion with Hispanic and Latino leaders in the County whose work on social justice issues have helped shape the community. Check out the fantastic video presentation featuring Hispanic and Latino residents who shared their life experiences and expressed their views on issues that will shape the future.

Apply to Merit System Protection Board

We're accepting applications for appointment to a three-year term on the Merit System Protection Board. Generally, the Board is expected to oversee the Merit System and to protect employee and applicant rights guaranteed under the County Merit System. Apply by October 14. Learn more.

Council to Vote on Pesticides Bill

caution pesticide application

On October 6, the Council will take its final vote on Bill 52-14 which would restrict the use of cosmetic pesticides. 

The bill, as introduced, would ban the use of “non-essential” pesticides on lawns, certain athletic playing fields, and County-owned public grass areas. It also would require property owners to post a notice when they apply pesticides and would require the County to adopt an integrated pest management program for certain County-owned property. The bill contains exemptions for agriculture, control of noxious weeds and invasive species, maintenance of golf courses, the protection of human health and the prevention of significant economic damage.

The upcoming meeting follows four worksessions by the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, which recommended several significant amendments to the bill. If you would like to follow along, you can watch the meeting live on County Cable Montgomery. It will also be available on demand 24 hours later. You can get background information on the Council’s Web site two days before the meeting. To weigh in, e-mail

Green Tip of the Month

In celebration of America Recycles Day, Montgomery County is hosting paper shredding and recycling events on October 4 and November 14. You may drop off up to five paper bags or small office paper-sized boxes of personal papers per vehicle for on-site shredding, as well as unlimited donations of gently used clothing and household goods in usable and working condition, at these sites: Sunday, October 4 at John F. Kennedy High School and Saturday, November 14 at Northwest High School. Learn more.

Fast Fact

Join us--the County Council and the County Executive--as we honor the men and women who served the nation during the Vietnam War. The event will take place at the Universities at Shady Grove at 10:30 on October 24. Bob Schieffer, who recently retired as host of the CBS show Face the Nation, will serve as the host and guest speaker.

The Vietnam War—which changed the lives of those who served and altered the political scene back home—ended for the United States in 1975. Honor and Gratitude: Montgomery Salutes Vietnam Veterans will be the first significant event in those 40 years to honor the County’s Vietnam veterans. It is estimated that between 130 and 140 Montgomery County residents lost their lives in the Vietnam War. More than 13,000 Vietnam veterans currently live in the County.

Speakers at the event will include veterans who served in various aspects of the conflict. The event will honor their service and also will look at how those experiences influenced their lives since. The program is free, but registration is required. Learn more.

Let's Talk

Is your community organization hosting a public meeting? Please let me know how I can help. I am happy to assist residents in understanding pending bills or in finding ways to get involved in the political process. Even more important, I want to hear about what matters to you. Send your meeting notices to or call 240-777-7959 if you would like me to address a particular topic with your group.

October 2015

In this Issue

Quick Links