February 9 was the final date for candidates to qualify for the June 5 primary for both Republicans and Democrats. As I told you earlier, I qualified for Montgomery County school board district 2 as a Republican.
With five of the seven seats on this board up for election this year, there is not a shortage of candidates. The fact that two of these seats do not have an incumbent running helped heighten interest. In all, 24 people are running for a seat on this board. Democrats fielded 18 candidates, while six are running under the Republican banner.
Besides myself, five others are running for District 2. Three Democrats and three Republicans.
I am pleased to see so much interest. This is super because it is about time the Montgomery community takes an interest in its public schools.
Yesterday interim state superintendent Ed Richardson held a news conference to explain steps he is taking because of the state intervention that began in January 2017. He did not beat around the bush as he explained that four schools will close at the end of this school year and that 17 central office positions will be eliminated. All of this in an effort to get the system back on sound financial footing.
Richardson went in-depth In a review of student performance for MPS. it is not a pretty picture. Richardson feels that the current MPS board has refused to address critical needs and he says they should “be embarrassed” with the present state of affairs.
However, in fairness we need to remember that former state superintendent Mike Sentance pushed the idea of intervening in Montgomery within just a few months of taking office. He got strong encouragement to do so by some Montgomery political types.
This effort was poorly conceived or thought out and can only be called a disaster of the highest order. Montgomery was scheduled to go through a re-accreditation process in 2018. Most systems seek assistance from the accreditation group, AdvancED, long before the process begins. Oft times they come in to review where a system stands and give them a heads up on areas that need attention.
Sentence did not do this. Instead he asked to delay accreditation until 2019 and took matters into his own hands. He gave a three-year contract for $700,000+ to hire an out-of-town Chief Financial Officer. He spent $535,000 to hire consultants from Massachusetts to assess Montgomery schools. (Principals I talk to say this info was of very little value.) He retained principals who were set to be terminated and gave a 10 percent raise to all principals at the poorer-forming schools. And the central office got a number of high-priced staff to work on a “turnaround” program.
For all intent and purpose, it was a wasted year for the 29,000 students in this system and all schools, staffs and faculty. And much of what Richardson is now trying to clean up can be laid at the feet of Mike Sentance and those who encouraged him. As we know, Sentance had no experience as a teacher, principal or local superintendent and was woefully prepared to run this intervention. The same can be said about those who were his cheerleaders.
So we have a mess in Montgomery. And I am pleased that 23 others have joined with me in offering their help to try to make real steps in making things better.
I look forward to presenting ideas I believe are needed at this time and hopefully convincing voters that I have the demonstrated passion, experience, maturity and common sense to work for these 29,000 students.
Our brand new campaign is going well. I am pleased at the support and encouragement I am getting–especially from the education community. And whether you live in district 2 or not, you can help us have the resources we need by going to this link and making a contribution.
It should be fun.