Parents, Advocates Press School Board For Money To Hire Bilingual Staff, Invest In Technology

Board of Education holding community meeting as members weigh $2.5 billion budget plan


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Students, parents and other community members are expected to press for additional public school spending on language services, technology, psychologists and programs in a Thursday night meeting.

The Montgomery County Board of Education is scheduled to gather at 7 p.m. at its Rockville headquarters to hear from the public about next year’s school budget proposal. Superintendent Jack Smith last month presented his $2.5 billion spending plan, receiving fanfare from board members for directing funds toward closing achievement gaps.

Written testimony submitted by community members ahead of the meeting also welcomed aspects of the proposed budget for fiscal 2018, but highlighted needs that they believe the plan doesn’t fully address.

For example, parents from Sargent Shriver Elementary School in Silver Spring are advocating for greater investment in programs, staffing and technology.

“The school needs are both important and striking. Among these are the need for after-school classes for our children, such as in reading and mathematics, so that they can have the … basic foundation for their education,” Fanny Bernabe, vice president of the parent teacher association at Sargent Shriver, wrote in her submitted testimony.

Another mother, Alba Rauda de Muñoz, is asking for more bilingual staff at the school.

“This would help me have better communication with the teachers in the school. It is difficult for me when I meet with the teacher. At times I communicate with her through sign language — Sometimes I understand her, sometimes I do not,” she wrote.

A couple of representatives from A. Mario Loiederman Middle School for the Creative and Performing Arts in Silver Spring are also lined up to speak. One eighth-grade student, Victor Fabritz Lugo, prepared comments describing overcrowded choir classes and overworked teachers. Funding shortages are even forcing his choir director to pay out-of-pocket for many supplies.

“For digital music he is paying for headphones, adaptors, logic pro, in choir, ties, cummerbunds, water, dinners (pizza). And much, MUCH more and now he is financially spent,” the student wrote.

The Montgomery County School Psychologists’ Association will ask for additional school psychologists, while other community advocates are calling for additional spending on school building upkeep.

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