Issue 3 briefs

January 14, 2019

Board approves funding to address overcrowding

The Montgomery County Board of Education passed amendments Nov. 27 to increase funding for renovations, additions and studies into the implications of boundary changes and school capacities for students across the county.

The money is part of amendments to the Capital Improvement Program, which ensures repairs and replacements of aging infrastructure in the county are timely.

“We have a lot of overcrowded schools,” board member Pat O’Neill said. “It would require about $800 million to get all of the kids out of portables and about $760 million to catch up on all of our heating and air conditioning and roofs and windows that need to be replaced. What’s approved is probably not even enough money to get everything done that we need.”

Whitman isn’t in dire need of repairs and receives enough money to keep the school maintained at an adequate level, assistant principal Rainer Kulenkampff said. Whitman’s renovation, which is scheduled to start next year, had been previously approved.

The Board appropriated an additional $3 million toward bathroom maintenance, and $2 million to install water bottle fillers at all schools.

Character-building programs net positive reviews across MCPS athletic departments

Athletic departments across MCPS are reporting positive results after introducing programs including “Lead ‘Em Up,” “Three Dimensional Coaching” and “Positive Coaching Alliance,” which are designed to teach athletes and coaches about leadership and healthy relationships.

The varsity and junior varsity football teams at Northwest, Richard Montgomery, Springbrook and Blair High Schools adopted a national program called “Coaching Boys Into Men,” which emphasizes the message “violence does not equal strength.”

In “Coaching Boys into Men,” student-athletes first take a pledge to commit to healthy and respectful relationships. Coaches lead 10- to 15-minute weekly discussions about consent and communication, program coordinator Donna Rismiller said. In a report about the program, an RM football player said he noticed positive changes.

“I’ve noticed the coaches definitely changing their language around this season to be more respectful both towards women and the players,” he said in the report. “I think the players as a whole have a more nuanced view on the issues of domestic violence and relationships with females in general.”

It’s up to specific schools’ athletic departments and individual teams to decide if they want to adopt the programs, but the Montgomery County Council of PTAs is urging all MCPS middle and high school athletic departments to do so.

“We certainly want them supporting our core values of athletics and pushing the message that our student athletes are character-driven and that they’re role models in the school,” MCPS athletic director Jeff Sullivan said. “These programs enhance the message in various ways.”

SGA revives charity month for Children’s National

The SGA is bringing back a charity month to raise money for Children’s National Medical Center this year which will last six weeks from mid-February to mid-March and include events like spirit week, Vike-a-Thon and other smaller events.

In the 2016-17 school year, four weeks dedicated to different charities were spread out over second semester. Last year, students dedicated two months to raising money for Pencils for Promise; Jost Van Dyke, a British Virgin island that was hit by two hurricanes, and Children’s National. But the SGA found that the weeks weren’t cohesive, and students weren’t enthusiastic about them.

“My main concern is to hopefully get to what the height of LLS was like, where everyone was pumped for the month and getting excited to do it,” charity month chair Danielle Hazan said. “Hopefully it will be something that can continue over years to come and the system will work well so we can keep being successful in our fundraising efforts.”

Whitman will compete with Walter Johnson, Churchill, Bethesda Chevy-Chase and Wootton high schools to see which school can raise the most money for their respective charities, Hazan said.

“Part of what brought so much excitement and so much money in the past was that we had a huge competition,” Hazan said. “That’s something I really wanted to bring back.”

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