Former Officials to Elrich: Target MCPS Budget Funds to Improve Reading Skills

On Wednesday, officials who formerly served the county in various positions from Board of Education to County Council, sent an email to County Executive Marc Elrich.

In the email they expressed concern about the lack of reading progress by Montgomery County Public School students starting at the third grade level and beyond.

Members of the email group included well known county names like Steven Silverman, Nancy Floreen, Mike Knapp and Judy Docca.

The group asked Elrich to “be a change agent” in his submission of the budget for MCPS for the coming year. They feel MCPS needs a strong message from him because “it’s long past time they made the improvement of reading scores a major priority.”

The message cited the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program results that found only 57% of third graders were reading at or above their grade level. Some schools like Arcola Elementary had more alarming rates. Only 39% of third grade students there were at the appropriate level. And at Joann Leleck Elementary the situation was even more dire with only 34% reading at grade level or above.

Acknowledging the impact of the pandemic on learning, they noted that Black and Latino students often feel the effects of poor reading skills more than their White and Asian counterparts who score higher on proficiency tests.

Their email points to precedence twenty years ago with a County Executive, County Council, Superintendent and Board of Education making changes to budget plans prior to approval to steer the school system in a better direction. In that case smaller class sizes were the objective.

They noted the last budget for MCPS was passed “with no strings attached to ensure that money was being targeted.” And this year MCPS adds $150 million dollars more for 2024-2025. They want Elrich and the Council to make sure MCPS targets funds to help students become better readers.

The email ends with the following words: “If we are truly about racial equity and social justice, nothing is more important than helping all our young children down a path toward success. If we don’t, then shame on us.”

To read the email in full, click here.

To read the email in full, click here.

Today County Executive Marc Elrich presents his recommended operating budget for fiscal year 2025.

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