MCPS Opens Its Doors to Nearly 160,000 Students for the 2022–2023 School Year
MCPS welcomed nearly 160,000 students for the start of the 2022–2023 school year on Monday, Aug. 29.
“Happy New Year! The start of a new school year is an exciting time,” said Superintendent of Schools Monifa B. McKnight. “We are thrilled to welcome students and staff back to schools, and it warms my heart to see the joy and energy that they bring to their buildings. We are looking forward to a wonderful year.” Watch video from the first day.
“MCPS is prepared for the opening of schools,” said Brenda Wolff, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “The efforts made in hiring, recruitment and retention of staff have been immense and fruitful; the opening of newly constructed spaces, and the recent investments in professional development and safety measures are part of our readiness,” Wolff said. “The Board and school system are looking forward to a phenomenal year.”
All Together Now, All for Our Students, Staff and Community
MCPS enters the school year committed to student success and providing students with a world-class education. The district is focused on Dr. McKnight’s priorities, a commitment to:
- Engaging stakeholders and rebuilding trust with students, staff and community
- Supporting mental health and well-being for students and staff
- Focusing on equitable teaching and learning
Additionally, MCPS is continuing to transition from a COVID-19 operational focus by opening in-person, five days a week and continuing with an online Virtual Academy for registered K–12 students. The 2022-2023 Reopening Guide outlines the precautions in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as what to expect for curriculum, grading, attendance, assessments, student engagement and communications.
MCPS began the new school year 99 percent staffed, on par with previous school years. The district is welcoming about 950 new teachers, more than 480 new supporting services professionals, and more than 50 new school and central office administrators this school year. As the district continues its recruitment and staffing efforts, schools and offices will mitigate the impact of open positions through flexible scheduling and long-term and short-term substitute teachers.
Celebrating the New Harriet R. Tubman Elementary School
The district’s 210th school, Harriet R. Tubman Elementary School, opened its doors to more than 450 students. The Gaithersburg school has 99,893 square feet of learning space and opens with Prekindergarten–4th grades, with 5th grade coming in the 2023–2024 school year. The facility houses a Linkages to Learning program, a partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and other non-profits to integrate health and social services at the school site, and has a number of environmentally sustainable features, such as efficient LED lighting and high-efficiency HVAC systems.
Other Construction Projects
MCPS also saw revitalizations and additions at three other schools—John F. Kennedy High School, Odessa Shannon Middle School and Westbrook Elementary School.
- John F. Kennedy, a 280,048-square-foot school in Silver Spring, received a 52,085-square-foot addition. Its newest features include a school-based wellness center, space for the Medical Careers Academy, and technology and special education suites. The school also received new artificial turf on the stadium field; Bermuda grass and an irrigation system installed on the practice field, and new tennis courts atop a new elevated parking structure.
- Also in Silver Spring, Odessa Shannon’s revitalization included a Linkages to Learning suite with separate entrance; six unfinished classrooms for future capacity; flexible and collaborative learning spaces; a covered outdoor dining area, and an interior courtyard that allows for natural light.
- At Westbrook in Bethesda, 3,000 square feet of shell space was converted into three new classrooms, which face the existing interior courtyard and receive natural light.
Expansion of Early Childhood Education
A high-quality, comprehensive early childhood system will help sustain a lifelong, positive impact on children and their families. During Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, MCPS had 1,351 full-day PreK seats. Through the support of local funding, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and PreK Expansion Grant funding, MCPS will add 360 full-day seats by converting part-day to full-day classes. In FY 2023, families will have access to 1,691 full-day PreK seats, representing a 24% increase over the number of seats last year. This increase reflects the inclusion of students with disabilities in identified classrooms. Additionally, the district will provide another 1,537 part-day PreK spots to our youngest learners.
Montgomery Virtual Academy
Beginning its second year, the Virtual Academy will provide full-time virtual learning to nearly 1,800 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The Virtual Academy partners with students’ home schools, so students continue to have access to services, including meals, extracurricular activities and athletics. More information on the Virtual Academy is available here.
Supports for Students, Staff and Families
Because the pandemic continues to affect the academic and social and emotional well-being of students, MCPS remains committed to the Community Navigator initiative, visiting neighborhoods and community spaces to provide information, resources and targeted support to families. MCPS has also partnered with county agencies to offer events in the community to share resources and highlight ways that students, parents and families can connect to learning, social and health resources.
MCPS has hired and placed permanent social workers in each high school, all of whom received training this summer tailored to service youth. The district has also instituted a new monitoring system that will allow schools and central office to track and monitor student supports, interventions and outcomes.
Health and Safety
MCPS remains committed to safely and equitably providing in-person learning, as well as prioritizing the physical and mental health and well-being of students and staff. Regulatory requirements, guidance from the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and Maryland Department of Health (MDH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics continue to inform MCPS’ reopening planning efforts.
MCPS is implementing a multi-layered health and safety protocol that includes everyday health strategies to prevent illness, in addition to specific COVID-19 mitigation strategies depending on community transmission and local risk factors.
Antiracist Audit Report Coming This Fall; Engagement Sessions to be Scheduled
This fall, MCPS will receive the Antiracist System Audit Final Report from the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium. The final report will be released to the public on Oct. 11 and will include findings for each of the six focus areas:
- Workforce Diversity Analysis
- Work Conditions, Progress & Barriers
- PreK–12 Equity Curriculum Review
- Equity Achievement Framework Progress
- Community Relations & Engagement
- Evaluation of School Cultures
MCPS will collaborate with community partners, student organizations and employee associations to review the findings and provide input on a district action plan. Dates for community engagement sessions will be shared in September. District leadership will have a final action plan by Jan. 31, 2023.