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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Education First Budget 5.25.16

May 25, 2016

County Executive Isiah Leggett
Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers
Board of Education
President Christopher Lloyd, MCEA,
President Merle Cuttitta, SEIU Local 500,
 President James Koutsos, MCAAP,
 President Frances Frost, MCCPTA,

Re: Education First Budget

Honorable Sirs and Madams:

I very much appreciate your focus on the needs of our community, culminating in the Education First budget. Thank you for your personal and institutional sacrifices, and leadership. This appears to be truly an unprecedented partnership, with several institutions making big commitments.
     I appreciate also your undertaking that residents/taxpayers will see the results of their investment. Through your sacrifices, elected County officials have at last put skin in the game--a necessary condition for school board and system accountability, and thus for progress (after four futile decades) in narrowing the achievement gap. This narrowing is the result that I expect to see, to justify the tax and the permanent MOE annuity. East County schools must significantly improve in relative performance to be recognized throughout the County for their quality. Such recognition is crucial to the development and wellbeing of our East County community.
     The County and school system press releases, with their carefully mirrored initiative itemizations, indicate the specificity of your bargain. Therefore, I am concerned that of eleven agreed initiatives, only two are explicitly targeted to impacted schools, and nine are intentionally generalized across all system schools.

Schools targeted?-
Reduce class sizes 2 students--add teachers

“in many schools”
“Across the board”
Lower student:staff ratio-paraeducators

Add focus teachers: literacy, math

Professional development

School counselors
“larger, impacted Elementary Schools”

Community coordinators, psychologists, pupil personnel workers

“most vulnerable students and their families”
Minority achievement programs

Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES)-2 more highschools

College and Career readiness and dual language programs

Achieving the Promise Initiative-mentors, coaches

Chromebooks $27.4 million

11 initiatives total
2 initiatives targeted to impacted schools
9 initiatives not targeted to impacted schools

Targeting should be an integral aspect of the community bargain to which you commit us. Absent targeting the most impacted schools, I do not see how the East County gap will narrow; the futility will persist for more decades and generations; your sacrifices and leadership will have been wasted; and your commitment to recognizable results unfulfilled.
     Subject to my concern over omittedtargeting, your leadership revives my faith in this peculiar mixed structure of County and school system governance.

                                                                    Very truly yours,

                                                                    Frederick Stichnoth,
                                                                      Colesville, Silver Spring
                                                                      East County

     One Montgomery

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