By

The Council Connection — school construction CIP, wireless connectivity infrastructure and more

Council Connection Masthead

Council President’s Message

I hope that you had an enjoyable holiday weekend. The Council is back in session on Tuesday, and we have a packed agenda. Included will be a discussion about employee workplace harassment policies and procedures, a review that the Council requested to ensure that we are doing everything we can to promote productive and safe work environments for our public sector employees.

We will also continue our work on the FY19-24 capital budget with a special focus on Montgomery Public Schools. The Council has been steadily increasing its investment in MCPS construction and renovation needs, making MCPS a higher priority for our construction program. The County Executive’s proposal before the Council would raise MCPS funding to record levels.

You may have heard that the Census Bureau recently announced that the 2020 Census will include a question on citizenship. In response, the Council will introduce a resolution that opposes this question and urges Maryland to sue the Federal Government to stop its addition to the Census. The resolution underscores that the citizenship question will damage the accuracy of the 2020 Census, affecting our community disproportionately, and hinder the goals of the Voting Rights Act. The Council is scheduled to vote on the resolution on April 17.

On Tuesday night, we have a public hearing about a proposal from the County Executive to amend the zoning code to allow for new telecommunications equipment. Specifically, new antennas that companies like Verizon and AT&T (to name just a few) want to install for the next generation of connectivity are smaller and intended to be placed on utility poles, streetlights, and similar locations, but the zoning code does not allow for them. There are many challenging issues involved.

Committees will take up many substantial issues, from Countywide technology programs to childcare. Read the full committee agenda here.

Cordially,

Hans Riemer Signature

Hans Riemer
Council President

RECENT ACTIONS

How do I…

…find Council staff “packets.”

The County Council has a dedicated staff of analysts and attorneys that provide rigorous and objective analysis of all business before the Council. Reading the work product (“packets” in the vernacular) of these analysts and attorneys is the most comprehensive way to learn about the particular issue you care about.

Fortunately, you don’t have to come to Rockville and dig through paper archives to browse the Council staff packets. They are all available on the Council website. Here are some tips to help you find the packet you are looking for:

By

Council Vice President Riemer, MCPS Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith to Speak at Landmark STEM Education Launch

“Invent the Future Challenge” kick-off at KID Museum in Bethesda on Thursday, November 30 at 11:30 a.m.,represents major investment in student-driven innovation

ROCKVILLE, Md., November 27, 2017—Council Vice President Hans Riemer and Dr. Jack Smith, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), will be among the featured speakers at the kick-off event for the “Invent the Future Challenge” on Thursday, November 30 at 11:30 a.m. at KID Museum in Bethesda. This new public-private partnership brings together the County, MCPS, and KID Museum to make a long-term investment in student engagement with the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. It will bring hands-on STEM learning opportunities to children at every middle school in the MCPS system.

Cara Lesser, Founder and CEO of KID Museum, and Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, are also featured speakers at the launch. KID Museum is located at 6400 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, Md. 20817. Elected officials, members of the press, and education leaders are invited to attend.

The “Invent the Future Challenge” is a competition which will engage middle school students in the STEM fields and 21st century technology and professional skills, with special emphasis on the areas of design/engineering and electronics/coding. Teams of middle schoolers led by adult coordinators will compete for prizes using Challenge Starter Kits which include the Arduino electronics platform. The partnership provides scholarships for intensive, skill-building pre-competition workshops for low-income students at KID Museum.

“I’m excited to be part of launching this new partnership between MCPS and KID Museum to bring high-quality, data-driven, maker-based STEM learning programs to Montgomery County students,” said Council Vice President Riemer. “Last February I held a Countywide STEM Summit to help build these kinds of connections, and it is a win-win for us to support a great local organization and bring sorely needed new resources to our middle school students. For several years I have worked hard to increase County investments in new approaches to STEM and maker learning. It is thrilling to see MCPS embracing KID Museum and bring STEM education to middle school students throughout the County.”

Council Vice President Riemer has been a strong advocate for increasing resources for STEM education in the County. He moved to establish a Coding Fund and Maker Fund in the County budget, which provide small grants to community organizations. He has prioritized sponsoring the annual Maker Faire KIDfest and providing grants to nonprofits like KID Museum and others, and hosted the County’s first STEM Summit in early 2017.

Free parking is available on-site. For information about transit to the event, visit http://kid-museum.org/location/.

For questions or further information, contact Jason Fasteau in the Office of Council Vice President Riemer at 240-777-7964 or
Jason.Fasteau@montgomerycountymd.gov, or emma@kid-museum.org. Information about the event is also available at www.kid-museum.org/invent-the-future.

# # # #

By

Head Start and Pre Kindergarten Expansion

I would like to thank my colleagues on the joint ED/HHS committee as well as our partners at Montgomery County Public Schools for supporting my focus on expanding existing half-day Head Start and pre-k programs to full-day for our lowest income children. The committees requested Council staff to identify how investments could be most efficiently targeted in the budget for next year, information that will be very valuable as we conduct our budget review over the next 6-8 weeks. I am hopeful that we can get to the $5 million expansion goal that I have proposed, but we will have to make some tough choices to create resources at that level.


To: George Leventhal, Chair, Health and Human Services Committee
Craig Rice, Chair, Education Committee & Member, Health and Human Services Committee
Nancy Navarro, Member, Education Committee
Marc Elrich, Member, Education Committee
Council President Roger Berliner, Member, Health and Human Services Committee
From: Council Vice President Hans Riemer
Date: March 13, 2017
Re: Head Start and Pre Kindergarten Expansion

When this Council passed Bill 13-15 eighteen months ago, we began to build the capacity to plan and implement a major expansion of programs to ensure access to quality, affordable early care and education for every child. Since that bill’s passage, the County has funded and hired a new Child Care Policy Officer in the Department of Health and Human Services and completed a Child Care Strategic Plan. The HHS and ED Committees recently held an exceptionally informative work session to hear from New York City about how they achieved their pre-k expansion, and the Committees instructed the HHS Department to determine how we could undertake a similar “universal” expansion.

With the receipt of OLO Report 2017-7, “Pre-K in Montgomery County and in Other Jurisdictions,” we have several approaches to consider as well as a crucial piece of the puzzle – clear evidence that the benefits of government-funded pre-k, at least for low income students, far outweigh the costs.

I am thrilled that the OLO report includes a series of discrete increments in which we could stage an expansion, with digestible cost estimates. I understand that Council staff intends to work with stakeholders to further define the costs and requirements of the incremental steps laid out in the OLO report.

I seek your support to direct Council staff to identify how we could best invest $5 million in FY18 to provide full-day pre-k for our lowest income children.

Over the past few weeks, my staff and I have conducted our own research and held meetings with staff from HHS, MCPS, and other stakeholders. My office has identified specific high poverty schools and the scope of their existing programs. Some of these schools already offer full-day pre-k, others offer half-day pre-k programs. Combined with the existing full-day slots, I believe $5 million would allow us to offer full day prekindergarten classes to ALL children who qualify for Head Start at all elementary schools, and begin to expand MCPS half-day pre-K to full day at the schools with the greatest concentration of children in poverty. This expansion could be accommodated on site at many schools, but would require some classes be provided through community partners or at other spaces such as Recreation facilities.

The following schools have programs that could readily be expanded.
Expand half-day Head Start to full day for about 250 kids in:
Bells Mill ES
Clearspring ES
College Gardens ES
Drew ES
East Silver Spring ES
Fairland ES
Glenallen ES
Maryvale ES
Montgomery Knolls ES
Christa McAuliffe ES
Strawberry Knoll ES
Twinbrook ES
Viers Mill ES
* Students from families living below 100% of the federal poverty line are eligible for Head Start

Expand half day pre-K to full day at highest FARMS schools for about 185 kids in:
Broad Acres ES
New Hampshire Estates ES
Harmony Hills ES
South Lake ES
* Students from families living below 200% of the federal poverty line are eligible for Pre-K

There are about 435 children in half day Head Start and pre-k programs in these schools. Our estimate is that creating full day Head Start and pre-k for all schools listed above would cost about $5 million, and we believe it can be done in FY18. Nevertheless, a more precise roadmap is required.

Both the OLO report and the HHS’s Department’s Early Care and Education Strategic Plan identify expanding existing half-day pre-K programs to full day as a top priority. The Early Care and Education Strategic Plan states:

S4. Work toward a guarantee of quality, affordable, full-day prekindergarten for all three and four-year old children in a mixed delivery system (e.g. services provided by both public schools and community-based programs).

Research shows that for low-income children, two-years of high-quality preschool improves children’s early literacy and math readiness for school compared to one year of prekindergarten. The number of hours in school, also known as dosage, is also an opportunity to close the readiness gap and meet the needs of working families. The new Head Start Program Performance Standards increase the number of hours a year Head Start programs must provide services. Early Head Start programs already operate for a full day.

Next Steps: In FY2018 and succeeding years, expand targeted assistance for low-income three and four-year-old children to have full-day prekindergarten in a mixed delivery system and increase the local contribution for full-day Head Start.

I look forward to working with you on this important County Council priority.

By

Improving the quality of County playing fields

Cabin John Park Ball Field

Playing Fields!

As a parent of two kids and as a guy who spent a lot of his youth playing sports, I know that quality playing fields make a big difference.

Over the past eighteen months, with the strong support of Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson and his great team as well as my colleagues on the County Council, I have been working with MCPS and the Department of Parks to put a greater emphasis on the renovation and maintenance of playing fields, whether they are located on MCPS property or MNCPPC property.

I am happy to share that the Department of Parks has launched a program to determine the condition and maintenance needs of every Park and public school athletic field in the County. Every single one! The initial assessment of all the fields was completed over the summer. The ballfields were assessed using criteria that included quality of grass, grass coverage, soil compaction, infield mix, infield grading, and drainage.

Our Council Committee received an update about the assessment, which you can read here.

During the 2016 capital budget review, I worked with the Education committee to allocate $750,000 over two years from permit fee funds managed by the Interagency Coordinating Board (ICB) for the Department of Parks to renovate ten school sites (with more than 15 fields) in Winter 2017 and five additional school sites in summer/fall 2017. The list of the first 10 school sites will be finalized soon.

Falls Road Soccer Field

I also worked as a member of the Planning Housing and Economic Development committee to increase the Parks budget for local field park ballfield renovation by 10%, which I certainly think is a good use of taxpayer dollars.

This grass field renovation will start building the supply of quality athletic fields across the County. Parks will use this opportunity to renovate not only the grass (or dirt infield), but improve the quality of the soil beneath when needed, regrade the field for drainage and review whether an irrigation system is realistic. Parks will also be investing in goal posts, nets, backstops and fencing that go along with the athletic fields.