Directors approve almost $9000 in grants

Spring 2011: Directors approve almost $9000 in grants to support education at Somerset and another MCPS school, to mitigate impact of budget cuts.

Donating to the Foundation More Important Now Than Ever

A recent front-page TIN article on proposed MCPS school budgets cuts could not have been more clear: This is a very tough time for the county and for our schools.

Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett has proposed over $80 million dollars in cuts to schools, and the school board will be debating the budget at hearings in April. According to Board of Ed president Charles Barclay, “The budget, as proposed by the County Executive, will lead to higher class sizes, staff cuts and other reductions that will affect every classroom in Montgomery County Public Schools.”

The Foundation was started in 1994, at a time when county budget cutbacks also threatened the quality of our children’s education. The Foundation is prohibited from paying for additional teachers, so it cannot reduce class sizes, but it can and does provide critical support for the children of Somerset – and for children in less-advantaged MCPS schools as well.

At the Foundation meeting on March 22, board members voted to support the following three grants, all of which support its mission of academic enrichment, capital improvements, and community outreach:

*A $5000 grant to update the fiction book collection that is used for guided reading groups in kindergarten through third grade. The original collection is 15 years old, incomplete, outdated and insufficient for our increased enrollment.

*$1355.20 for teacher professional development, teachers in all grade levels will learn how to implement a vocabulary curriculum that improves students’ reading comprehension.

*$2600 to underwrite the costs of the Viers Mill Elementary School 4th grade field trip to Historic St. Mary’s. This is the same field trip that our own 4th-graders take, but at Viers Mill, a school which is challenged economically, this trip would not be possible this year without our support. It is difficult for parents to afford the entire cost of the trip (approximately $40 per child) and PTA resources are similarly stretched. Teachers end up sponsoring children.

This year, the Foundation has also supported Family Learning Nights at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring as well as their Saturday field trip program. The Board also approved a grant to underwrite the costs of the guided reading non-fiction collection here at Somerset, and, together with the Somerset PTA, underwrote the cost of the activity bus that takes the children home after the tutoring clubs. (The county no longer provided this service.)

All of these requests for funding came through our teachers and principal, and all of the money to furnish these grants came from Somerset families, alumni, and friends.

This is a challenging time for all MCPS schools, and we are fortunate to have such an engaged and generous parent community. Thank you.