Paul Monteiro Discusses Appointment Priorities for Schools CEO and Board Members

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In advance of the June 26 election primary election, Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS) sent the following question to all ten County Executive candidates.

What criteria will you use in filling the position of PGCPS CEO and the appointed positions on the Board of Education? Please be specific about what sort of people you will seek for these positions and whether or not you will replace the current board members.

Here is the response from Paul Monteiro (Dem):

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the question.

A record of collaborative leadership — It’s important to identify a track record of working with a range of stakeholders and the courage to engage in the hard work of bringing diverse voices together and identifying a common vision accessible to all. PGCPS has become more balkanized with the hybrid Board of Education, the CEO, and various stakeholder groups of teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, etc. There are no easy answers or quick fixes and the next head of PGCPS has to be prepared and comfortable building trust and modeling transparency to build relationships and generate buy-in as we identify a way forward for all.

Openness to innovation — Based on the “Together for Tomorrow” approach we pursued through President Obama’s Department of Education, it’s important to have someone who sees the surrounding neighborhood and broader ecosystem that’s needed to support our schools holistically. With the proper controls in place to ensure student safety at all levels, federal agencies, private sector employers, faith-based and non-profit organizations, community groups, etc. need to be leveraged in supporting the range of needs of our teachers, students, and staff. Many of the “inside the beltway” schools and others with high percentages of ELL and/or those on free/reduced lunch would be our first priority. Student safety is paramount. Period. With careful planning to build real and reasonable protections, we can move away from a fear-based/risk-averse status quo that inhibits the innovation that would allow our principals and teachers to engage broader parts of the “village” we need to deliver the world-class education we often talk about.

Integrity — PGCPS has seen a stunning lack of integrity by some associated with the system including a prior superintendent. In addition to supporting my call for an independent Inspector General, the new head of our schools should model integrity in all of their dealings and have no hint of scandal in any of their past positions. The way forward for our school system requires no less given the trust deficits that have built up over time because of broken promises and empty rhetoric.

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Upcoming Election Deadlines

IMG_2622by T. Carter Ross

As you may have noticed, there are a number of contested elections on the ballot in Prince George’s this June. Early voting starts on June 14 and runs through June 21 (10 am to 8 pm each day). A full list of early voting locations can be found here: https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/DocumentCenter/View/11692/Early-Voting-Sites-PDF.

The Primary Election is June 26 (7 am to 8 pm). You can check to make sure you are registered and look up your primary day polling location here: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch

If you are unable to make it to the polls to vote, you can request an absentee ballot online here: https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/965/Absentee-Ballots

Because of Maryland’s closed primary system, if you wish to vote in the Democratic primary, you must be registered as a Democrat The same holds true if you wish to vote in the Republican primary, you must be registered as a Republican. Voters registered with a third-party, as independent, and/or as unaffiliated will be able to vote on school board candidates, but not any other races. If you are not registered as a Democrat and wish to vote, for example, in the County Executive or County Council races, you can change your party affiliation to Democrat by updating your information online: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration. It takes about five minutes and you will need your driver’s license as part of the process.

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With a New County Executive, What Comes Next for PGCPS?

100_3401by T. Carter Ross

Nine Democrats and one Republican are running for Prince George’s County Executive, and no matter who is elected, one of their first tasks will be exercising their responsibility for overseeing the county’s public school system. Regardless of public statements in favor or in opposition to HB 1107, because it and the hybrid school board it authorized remain the rule of the land, the next County Executive will continue to exercise great authority over PGCPS and will have the ability to shape school systems’ leadership through their appointments.

Over the next four years, the County Executive will most likely have the opportunity to name a new CEO for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), appoint three people to the Board of Education, and name the Board of Education’s Chair and Vice Chair. However, the new County Executive cannot simply clear house; there are limits on these appointment powers.

Selecting the next PGCPS CEO

The process for selecting the CEO was set out in HB 1107 and codified as §4–201.1 in the Education Article of the Code of Maryland. This subsection, §4–201.1, applies only to Prince George’s County, but it is based on and largely parallels §4–201 (which governs all other county public school systems in Maryland) and §4–301 (which governs the public school system in Baltimore City).

The County Executive does not have an unrestricted right to name the PGCPS CEO. Under §4–201.1(c)(1), a three-person committee consisting of two residents of Prince George’s County appointed by the governor and chaired by a member of the Maryland State Board of Education appointed by the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools must recommend three candidates for the CEO position. It is from this list of three candidates that the County Executive choses the CEO.

After a CEO is selected, the Chair of the Board of Education is charged with negotiating a contract for the CEO’s term. The selection and contract must then be approved by the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools. If a contract is reached and the appointment approved, the CEO is in place for a four-year term, beginning on July 1.

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Q & A with Irene Holtzman, District 3 Board of Education Candidate

IreneHolzman2018-73-minThis is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Irene Holtzman is a candidate from District 3 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Ms. Holtzman answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I was born in raised in Maryland, and have lived in Prince George’s County for over two decades. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, I’ve been working in public education for nearly twenty years – as a teacher, an administrator and an educational advocate. Prince George’s County schools are full of potential but the dynamics of power and politics are interfering with our ability to see that potential realized.

I am running for Board of Education because students, teachers, and parents deserve a board member who puts children at the center of their decision making.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

  • Making Prince George’s County a world-class place to teach While there are a number of factors that contribute to student success, not one is more powerful than an excellent educator. How can we make Prince George’s County THE destination for amazing teachers in our region? We must make sure that compensation for teachers is competitive, that they have the resources they need in the classroom, and that their voice is heard, considered, and acted upon in their schools.
  • Centering community voices in decision making Our school system’s direction must be informed by those closest to it – our students, parents, and teachers. The lines of communication must be open and accessible to all. Instituting better structures and processes to ensure that these voices are elevated will lead to a school system that is better equipped to ensure students are successful.
  • Transparency and accountability Data regarding schools, school performance, finance, and anything else under the Board’s authority should be readily available in a format that is understandable by the general public. Only then will the community be able to independently assess the impact of their tax dollars on our County’s youth and hold the Board and leadership accountable.

What qualities do you believe are most important in a Chief Executive Officer?

The CEO must have a bold vision for the future of our County’s schools and a strategy for achieving that vision. This vision must be informed by the on-the-ground experiences of our students, parents, teachers, and administrators and the CEO must commit to transparent decision-making and data-informed course correction when necessary. The CEO must also have the practical skills of managing people, finances, and other resources to achieve the goals set out in the strategic plan. Most importantly, the CEO must have the ability to work across difference, balancing politics, pragmatics, and possibility across a wide range of stakeholders for the good of our students.

If you had the opportunity to chair one of the existing Board of Education committees, which would you choose and why?

If given the opportunity to chair one of the existing Board of Education committees, I would choose the Academic Achievement Committee. One, as a former teacher and administrator, it is the one where I have the most expertise. More importantly, academic achievement is the ultimate goal of our schools and the place where the board has an incredible responsibility to ensure that its policies are supporting schools in ensuring amazing outcomes for all students.

What are your impressions of the current level of parent engagement in our schools, and what ideas do you have for improving/encouraging parent and community engagement? 

While there are many schools that enjoy high levels of parental engagement, we need to be mindful that our goal is for all parents to be engaged, not only in their child’s school, but in the vision setting and policy making for the County as a whole. Some ways to maximize that engagement include providing schools additional resources to engage their parents, holding board meetings at rotating locations throughout the County to facilitate parental participation, holding parent and community town hall meetings to allow an open forum for idea generation and exchange, and proactively surveying the community about what engagement opportunities are most meaningful and accessible to them.

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Q & A with Catherine Bennett Nwosu, District 3 Board of Education Candidate

Catherine Bennett Nwosu

This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Catherine Bennett Nwosu is a candidate from District 3 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Ms. Nwosu answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

My journey began as a K-12 student within the PGCPS system. I am a proud graduate of High Point HS and a first generation college graduate. During high school, I was inspired by my teachers to pursue education and graduated with my degree in English as a Second Language. I currently serve as Director of Extended Learning at a charter school network in Washington, DC, where I am responsible for afterschool programming across three elementary campuses. My daily responsibilities include staffing, compliance, budget, human resources, and curriculum.
I love the work I do currently, but I have continually seen the academic divide that exists in schools across our region. I’m tired of complaining about the challenges seen in my community and want to step up and work to bridge this divide in Prince George’s County. I know there is promise and potential here.

I am running for the Board of Education in Prince George’s County because of my concerns that we are not meeting the needs of ALL of our students in this district. Reforming our local schools is an urgent concern for me, especially since I myself am a mom with children in the school system. I want to push our thinking about the academic future of my children and children throughout our neighborhood because they deserve the absolute best everyday, and they are not receiving that now. But we can change that.

As a parent, I see how quickly our children grow both at home and in educational settings. We don’t have time to point fingers or make excuses. I’m ready to work collaboratively with parents, teachers, leaders, community members, students and board members to envision what we want to see in our schools, then work to make that a reality.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

The three major areas that I’d like to focus on as a board member are academic equality, collaboration, and capital improvement. Far too many schools in District 3 are overcrowded and academically underperforming, and it must be fixed.

We have recently been approved for a new elementary and middle school to be built in our area. Leveraging Public and Private Partnerships (P3) will go a long way to ensure that our schools are built efficiently, with quality, and within budget. However, it is not enough to focus solely on new school buildings that have been approved. The CIP budget must also be simultaneously used to make needed repairs to our existing schools. It’s not enough to create new seats – we have to improve the quality of the ones we have too.

We also know that there has been a lot of new home construction in our area recently without any planning for creating additional seats for the children living there. I will work collaboratively with the county council to ensure systems across our government that speak to one another and get proactive about school capacity needs.

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Q & A with Matt Green, District 9 Board of Education Candidate

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 10.39.16 AMThis is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Matt Green is a candidate from District 9 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Mr. Green answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I am a husband, family man, and father of four school age children vested in theirs and other children’s education, education choices and future. I am also a volunteer coach for a 3/4U flag football team, youth wrestling coach, President of a Youth Club, retired military leader, advocate and mentor. I am running with the encouragement and support of family, friends and neighbors.

Many feel based on my prior career as a Military Officer, I’d be a good fit for the Board of Education with my ability to prioritize, organize, be transparent, communicate, and make things happened. I have had the opportunity to interface with national and international governing officials at many levels from the start of my military career. I’ve also been in roles of diplomacy that included but weren’t limited to organization and nation building in both peacekeeping and combat environments. I’ve often been complimented on my demeanor to react calm and intelligently under pressure, while positively influencing the situation and others around me. I look for the opportunity to learn from not only my mistakes, but those of others and applying lessons learned.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

1) Along with a team of constituents, get into the schools with our students and educators to see things in action firsthand (this would include unannounced visits as the District 9 Board of Education Representative to keep a true prospective); next I’d prioritize and organize what needs to be done based on firsthand research, findings, parents and community feedback, research and align/reference policy and legislation; take action to fix problems.

2) Build rapport in the community; our community needs to know and understand their Board of Education representatives work for the students, educators, parents and community. This means having the tough conversations to solve problems, understanding that if it is torn down, there is the inherent responsibility to build back up (even stronger), going above and beyond to address and resolve concerns at local, state and possibly national level.

3) Bring Back the Pride; there are a lot of good news stories occurring across Prince George’s County Schools. We owe it to our students, educators, parents and community to highlight and share how great we are with the world. As well as continually growing Prince George’s County talent pool, we have a responsibility to share our positives with the world too.

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Q & A with Anthony Triplin, District 6 Board of Education Candidate

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This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2018 Prince George’s County Board of Education candidates. Anthony Triplin is a candidate from District 6 (see district map here) running in the June 26 primary election. Mr. Triplin answered questions generated by members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools does not endorse or oppose any candidate for the Board of Education.

Tell us about your background and your plans to move our school system forward. Why do you want to be on the Board of Education?

I have served in the United States Navy and in the Army National Guard. I have more than 10 years in accounting, auditing and budgeting experience. I see my mission on the Board of Education as helping explain where the actual money is going in the simplest terms and how we can better allocate it to serve our schools. Our school system is the bedrock of our community. I am passionate about bringing people together to plug into solutions that will strengthen our school system and improve opportunity for all children, because our community’s well being – our region’s prosperity – depends upon this. As an advocate for public education, I have worked collaboratively with people of many different backgrounds and worldviews. I have brought people around the table to find common ground and take action together on solutions. I believe that I can make a greater difference by bringing this approach to the school board.

I am committed to listening first, to leading thoughtfully and respectfully, and to building strong partnerships to find the best solutions for our children and the district. I am running for office because our school district is facing a number of challenges that require commitment and great leadership in the boardroom. I am committed to improving the quality of our public school system and realize that serving as a policy maker is one of the most direct ways to make a difference.

I feel that there is a need for quality and dedicated new leadership. I want to be on the school board because I care about children and their parents, I care about educators in this district and I care about the future of the county to attract and retain the best and brightest. I want to help mend the fences that have been broken in our community, to restore trust and integrity where it’s needed. I want to make sure that we continue the good things that happened under the previous administration.

What would be your top three priorities while serving on the board, if elected?

Provide a safe and effective learning environment for our students at every school. This includes making sure we have highly qualified teachers in every classroom and quality administration in every school. We need to identify and reward strong teachers and we need to expand our professional development offerings so all teachers can improve their performance in the classroom.

Utilize our resources more efficiently.​ Our “Weighted Student Staffing” and “Strategic Staffing” programs allow us to direct extra funding to the students who need additional resources to be successful. Give our students what they need to succeed by giving our teachers and principals what they need to succeed. We need to provide our teachers and principals with the right training, support, professional development, and resources to give our students what they each need to be successful.

Create a focused and strategic budget, that puts our money toward what works for students. We need to build strong community partnerships to ensure our entire community is pushing in one direction, for our students. Our students do their best when they have the entire community standing behind them. It’s easy to make promises, but living these promises IS what works, and I ask for your vote to continue to live these promises for the next four years and beyond.

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