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MoCo Rallying Support For School Construction With SSL Hours

By Aaron Kraut

Tuesday - 3/4/2014, 3:25pm  ET

State House in Annapolis, Flickr photo by richandaliceMontgomery County is offering Student Service Learning hours to students who head to Annapolis on Thursday night for a planned lobbying push for state school construction funding.

The Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (MCCPTA) is sponsoring a legislative reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and has chartered buses from five locations in the county for the parents and students. The MCCPTA, with approval from MCPS, is offering three SSL hours to each student who come along, provided they stay for the 8 p.m.-8:30 p.m. session.

Montgomery County lawmakers have partnered with legislators in Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties to push for a state bill that would provide up to $20 million each year to fund a portion of school construction projects or project debt for the three large school systems.

“Montgomery County needs the State of Maryland to step up with a matched program for resources over and above what the County normally receives,” read an email sent from the county on Tuesday as part of its school construction funding campaign.

County Executive Isiah Leggett, Council President Craig Rice, MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr and Board of Education President Phil Kauffman are all set to lobby at the event, which will be held in the Lowe House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Room 170.

MCPS has grown by about 2,000 students a year and is projected to grow by about 25,000 students over the next 12 years. County leaders say Montgomery deserves state support in easing overcrowding concerns. Leggett recommended $1.1 billion of school construction funding in his latest capital budget and the county says its own funding for construction has increased by 36 percent.

But the bills — cross-filed in the Senate and House — face an uphill battle. County officials have blamed election-year politics for the efforts apparent failure so far to gain enough traction for approval.

The MCCPTA has said it expects about 300 to 400 parents at the advocacy event on Thursday.

Students who go to Annapolis must be accompanied by a parent, whether they go on MCCPTA buses or individually.

Kimberly Bloch-Rincan, the SSL coordinator for MCPS, wrote that advocacy activities are appropriate for SSL hours and that MCCPTA is a SSL approved nonprofit:

- Official MCCPTA representatives will ensure that all 3 phases of SSL are implemented (i.e. the preparation and reflection phases of SSL will occur on the bus and supervision during the action
phase in Annapolis)
- Students are encouraged to ride the MCPS buses to the event and must be accompanied by their
parent
- Students are not encourage to drive in individual cars but if they do, they must meet the MCPS
buses in the parking lot to join the MCCPTA group in order be supervised and to receive the
necessary paperwork

One of the buses will leave from Whitman High School. Councilmember Roger Berliner will be on that bus.

For information on the MCCPTA buses, visit this site.

Flickr photo by richandalice