Education

Schools Open to Record Enrollment

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) kicks off the 2012-2013 school year today (August 27, 2012) with the highest enrollment in the district’s history and the opening of a brand new school in Silver Spring.

More than 149,000 students are expected to attend MCPS this year, an increase of about 2,500 students from 2011 and nearly 10,000 students since 2009. To help manage the growth, MCPS today opens Flora M. Singer Elementary School, located in the McKenney Hills neighborhood of Silver Spring. Also opening today is the fully modernized Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.

”We are excited to welcome our students and staff back for the 2012-2013 school year,” said Shirley Brandman, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “We open our doors today with a renewed dedication to preparing our students for their future. Our enrollment is at an all-time high, which is an indication that people recognize Montgomery County as a great place to raise and educate their children and we will work hard to continue that tradition.”

Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr said even amid its dramatic growth, the district must remain focused on its core mission to prepare students for college and the workplace.

“For our students, the future starts today. MCPS is committed to making sure our students have the knowledge and skills they need for success in the 21st century,” said Dr. Starr. “This is a big responsibility, but I know we are up to the task because we have the best staff in public education and strong support from our community.”

Dr. Starr and members of the Board of Education will spend the day touring schools, including the new Flora M. Singer Elementary School, which opens with more than 450 students and provides much-needed space to help manage growth in the Downcounty Consortium. The modernized Paint Branch High School, in the Northeast Consortium, includes capacity for nearly 2,000 students, a 900-seat auditorium and a greenhouse. Both projects were built using green construction materials and have environmentally friendly features, such as a geothermal exchange system to provide heating and cooling.

“These projects were delivered on time and on budget and provide a great space for teaching and learning,” Dr. Starr said.

MCPS already has a national reputation for student achievement, as evidenced by strong performance in a variety of areas, including:

- Graduation Rate: For the fourth year in a row, MCPS has the highest graduation rate among the nation’s largest school districts, according to Education Week.
- Advanced Placement (AP) participation and performance: MCPS students took a record number of Advanced Placement exams last year. And of the 31,734 AP exams taken, 72 percent earned a college-ready score.
- Early grades reading: More than 90 percent of MCPS kindergarten students are reading at or above grade level by the end of their first year.

Dr. Starr said the progress that MCPS has made over the past 10 years is remarkable, but added that there are still persistent gaps in performance among students of different races, ethnicities and need. If MCPS is going to continue to lead the nation, it must narrow those gaps. To that end, Dr. Starr said there are three strategic areas where MCPS staff will be putting extra focus this year:

- Professional Development: Making sure the staff of MCPS has the knowledge and skills to best serve the needs of all students.
- Interventions: Identifying students who are struggling and providing timely, comprehensive supports.
- Community Engagement: Informing and engaging parents in their child’s education and collaborating with other government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide the wrap-around services our students and families need.

Also, this year, the district will continue the implementation of its improved elementary school curriculum. For the past three years, MCPS has been rolling out Curriculum 2.0 and this school year it will be taught in all K-3 classrooms. Curriculum 2.0 is designed to provide a strong foundation in the core areas of reading, writing and mathematics (aligned to the Common Core State Standards) while putting a renewed emphasis on other curricular areas, such as science, social studies, the arts and physical education. It also helps students develop the creative and critical thinking skills that are extremely important for success in the 21st century.

Parents in grades K-3 will receive an improved report card that will provide them more information about how their children are performing against grade-level expectations.

Back to School Facts and Figures

Over the summer:

- MCPS hired more than 750 new teachers
- Teachers participated in more than 61,000 hours of training
- Transportation staff serviced 1,200 buses and reviewed 1,100 bus routes
- Construction was completed on more than 694,500 square feet of building projects
- Hundreds of other projects were completed, including floor and roof replacements, lighting, field improvements and more.

Each day in MCPS:

- 22,000 employees work to provide and support instruction in our schools
- More than 60,000 students are provided meals, including about 3,000 who are provided breakfast, lunch and dinner by MCPS
- School buses travel 103,000 miles, the equivalent of four trips around the equator

Demographics of MCPS student enrollment

By race and ethnicity (2011-2012 data):

- White: 33.7 percent
- Hispanic: 26 percent
- Black: 21 percent
- Asian: 14.3 percent
- Multiple races: 5 percent

By program (2011-2012 data):

- Students who are Free and Reduced-price Meals eligible: 33.6 percent
- Students receiving special education services: 11.7 percent
- Students receiving English for Speakers of Other Languages services: 13.6 percent


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