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Changing of the Guard at Montgomery County Public Schools

Words of farewell from outgoing superintendent Jerry Weast and greetings from new superintendent Joshua P. Starr.

Dear Friends,

When my career in education began in a small Kansas town more than four decades ago, I could not have imagined the journey that would lead me to Montgomery County. Yet, every day over the past 12 years, I have been so very grateful that my path landed me here.

Working together, we have simply built the best school district in the nation and today, on my last day as superintendent, I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to those who have made it happen.

Jerry Weast, Ed.D.














Thank you to the Montgomery County community that has made a quality school system its highest priority. You have invested money, resources and time in making sure that all children—not just your own—receive a world-class education. Even in difficult economic times, education has remained your top priority, and that substantial investment will pay dividends for generations to come.

Thank you to our community and political leaders, including the Board of Education, the County Council, the business community, and so many others. You have given selflessly year after year and your work is an important legacy for our community. Like all families, we have had our disagreements from time to time, but, for the most part, we have remained civil and focused on what matters most—the education of our children. I appreciate the Board of Education's confidence in me 12 years ago when they handed me the keys and asked me to lead this wonderful system. Together, we have built a system upon the premise that all children can learn at high levels. In addition, we are fortunate to have a supportive business community working hand in hand with us. Without a doubt, the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education has helped our system become a more effective and efficient organization.

Pull out quote.. As I have said many times, for the
past 12 years, I have been the coach of the best team in America

Thank you to the incredible staff of Montgomery County Public Schools. Whether you are in the classroom or the cafeteria; the front office or the central office; the bus depots or the band rooms, every success we have had has been the direct result of your work.Over the past few years, we have asked you to make sacrifice after sacrifice, and you have done so willingly and continued to deliver outstanding results. As I've said many times, for the past 12 years, I have been the coach of the best team in America. My sincerest thanks also go to our employee associations—MCEA, MCAAP and SEIU Local 500—for their collaborative spirit in good times and bad. And, of course, my heartfelt thanks to my leadership team, most notably Mr. Larry Bowers, our chief operating officer, and Dr. Frieda Lacey, deputy superintendent of schools, who have been with me throughout my time at MCPS and have improved the future of countless students during their combined 70-plus years in this district.

Jerry Weast and students Thank you to all of our parents. Your daily involvement in our school system is what has allowed us to continue to thrive even as our district has faced many changes and many challenges. Your support, your honesty and, yes, even your occasional criticisms have held us accountable and we are better for it. And, of course, thank you to our students. Over the past 12 years, I have had the privilege to sign more than 100,000 diplomas and watch countless students cross the stage at graduation and enter the world excited and prepared for what is to come. You are why we do what we do and, each year, you make me prouder and prouder. Continue to learn, explore and grow—and remember to return home to the community that gave you a great start. We need you here.

Tomorrow, Dr. Joshua Starr takes over as your next superintendent. Being the leader of Montgomery County Public Schools is a demanding, difficult job, as it should be. During the past few months, I have had the opportunity to get to know Josh well. He is the right person to lead this system to the next level of excellence. He will need your ongoing support to continue the work we have started together. I know you will welcome Josh and his family to Montgomery County with open arms, just as you did my family 12 years ago. Together, we have built an amazing system of schools in Montgomery County and together, you will continue to improve upon that success for years to come.

I wish all of you health and happiness in the future and I thank you for all you have done for me and, most importantly, for our children.


Jerry D. Weast, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools


To the Staff, Students and Community of Montgomery County Public Schools,

Today, Josh Starr[July 1] I officially begin my tenure as the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). I am excited, honored and humbled to be chosen to lead this exceptional school system and I thank the Board of Education for providing me with this opportunity. There is no question that MCPS has had enormous success and is a national model on numerous fronts. As I have said, it is clearly a district that is doing many things right and so there is no need for radical quick fixes or big changes. But that doesn’t mean that we can stand still and admire past achievements. All successful organizations continually push themselves to reach higher levels on the path to greatness. I believe that MCPS is well-positioned for greater success if we continue to focus on what matters most – ensuring that high quality teaching and learning is happening in each and every classroom, every day. Together, we are going to work to make sure that every child who graduates from MCPS leaves us with a promising future ahead.

I already have met so many dedicated staff members, and I cannot wait to visit with many more of you to hear about your hopes and dreams for our school system. I will be spending the next few months listening, learning and meeting with staff, students, parents, community members, business leaders and many others to find out about not only what’s going right, but about where we have room to grow and improve. I also have established a transition team made up of both internal and external leaders who are helping me learn, as quickly as possible, about the areas that need the most focus to accelerate our progress in closing the achievement gap and raising standards.

Finally, I want to thank Dr. Jerry Weast for his extraordinary service over the last 12 years. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Dr. Weast and all that he and the school system have accomplished. It truly is a privilege to follow such a dynamic and extraordinary leader.

I look forward to beginning our dialogue about strengthening this great system and working together to fulfill the promise we have to all students to give them our best so that they can be their best.



POSTED: Friday, July 15, 2011 | 4:37:00 PM |

Montgomery County Schools Make the Top Grade, Again

For the third year in a row, Montgomery County Public Schools has the highest graduation rate among the nation’s largest school districts, according to a national report just released.

The annual Diplomas Count report published by Education Week, calculated MCPS’ graduation rate at 85.7 % -- a 2.6 percentage point increase over last year’s report -- and significantly higher than the national rate of 71.7% and the state of Maryland’s 76.8%.

See more details.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 | 7:00:00 AM |

Maryland at the Head of the Class…Again

Maryland -- for the third year in a row -- has ranked first in Education Week’s Quality Counts report. The 2011 version of the annual assessment of state educational systems, gave Maryland the nation’s highest grade, a B+.

Maryland’s ranking is based on State education policies and student performance that reflect nearly two decades of work on preK-12 curriculum; state accountability and standards; teacher effectiveness; and work on school readiness, high school reform, and preparation for college and the workplace. Quality Counts uses more than 50 indicators to develop its report.

Following Maryland are Massachusetts and New York, each of which received a B. In contrast, the District of Columbia, Nebraska, and South Dakota received grades of D+, with a majority of states earning a C or C-plus. The nation as a whole earned a C, the same grade as last year.

Education Week is a leading online/print news source for K-12 leaders and policy experts.

To view the 2011 Quality Counts report, visit http://www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2011/01/13/index.html?Intc=EW-QC11-EWH.

See State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick’s response at http://www.msde.maryland.gov/msde.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | 5:00:00 AM |

Federal Transportation Secretary LaHood Joins County’s International Walk to School Day Celebration


County Executive Ike Leggett recently joined parents, teachers, and children around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day at East Silver Spring Elementary School (ESS). The annual event promotes safer streets, healthier lifestyles and cleaner air. Leggett was joined by Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (center), Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, and other dignitaries. Approximately 30 other schools across the County celebrated the day with various activities.

East Silver Spring was the first school in the County to hold a Walk to School Day celebration back in 1999. William Smith, a legally blind parent, was the impetus behind the event and for Maryland’s designation of walking as the state exercise. He’s an advocate for pedestrian safety and was a guest of honor at the celebration.

ESS is also promoting healthy eating, exercise and life styles. The school was adopted by Whole Foods, which helped students plant and maintain a garden in the courtyard. Whole Foods’ “Chef Egg” offered a very popular once-a-week after-school cooking class. And, an after-school “walking club” helped ESS students get more exercise and prepare for the Takoma Park Safe Routes to School 5K Challenge, in which hundreds of students and parents participated.

Montgomery County is upgrading safety at schools, thanks in part to the federal Safe Routes to School program created in 2005. The program provides funding communities can use to retrofit roads and create sidewalks and bike paths that allow children to safely walk or bike to school. Funding also supports enforcement and education campaigns.

For more information, visit MCDOT's pedestrian safety website or call the Office of Community Outreach at 240-777-7155.

CATEGORIES: County Executive , Education , Public Safety
POSTED: Friday, October 15, 2010 | 8:00:00 AM |

Montgomery County at the Top of the Class in Graduation Rate…Again

For the second straight year, Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) graduation rate is number one among the nation's 50 largest school districts, according to the Diplomas Count 2010 report, published by Education Week.

The MCPS graduation rate of 83.1 percent is significantly higher than the rate for the state of Maryland or for the nation and is up from last year’s top rating of 80.7 percent. Learn more, visit montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/publicinfo/graduationrates/

POSTED: Monday, June 14, 2010 | 10:00:00 AM |

Executive Commends State Board of Education Decision on Maintenance of Effort

“I am grateful to the State Board of Education for their decision to approve Montgomery County’s local contribution to education of $1.415 billion, supporting our request to waive the county’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement for fiscal year 2011.

“I want to thank the Montgomery County Council for their support. I also especially want to thank our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jerry Weast and Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill for standing shoulder to shoulder with us in support of the waiver.

“Montgomery County has a long history of funding our schools far in excess of State Maintenance of Effort requirements. But, this year, we were faced with serious challenges posed by the sharp economic downturn as a clear justification for a waiver.

“Despite being unable to meet our MOE target in fiscal year 2011, the County has made every effort to minimize the impact of this decline in revenue on K -12 education by taking proportionately steeper budget reductions in County government and other County funded agencies than the County has proposed for MCPS.

“I appreciate the State Board’s action. It recognizes that Montgomery County continues to support our world-class school system while sustaining critical programs in public safety, safety net services for our most vulnerable County residents, and initiatives to support our children and youth.”

CATEGORIES: Budget , Education
POSTED: Monday, June 14, 2010 | 7:00:00 AM |
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Last edited: 11/8/2010