MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - The Montgomery County Education Association, which represents thousands of Montgomery County Public School teachers, announced on Thursday that out of nearly 7,000 members voting in a day, around 94% voted "no confidence" in both the Montgomery County School Board and Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight.
The vote comes after a much anticipated MCPS virtual meeting ended in more frustration and little specifics shared on the current state of COVID-19 within MCPS’ more than 200 schools.
The response: the Montgomery County’s Education and Culture Committee is now planning an emergency session with MCPS next Thursday to discuss details not shared in the Wednesday night meeting.
Many MCPS families were still wanting to know about the staffing shortages and are looking for a more clear explanation of how decisions will be made on whether a school will go back to virtual instruction.
"You know what, we’ll do it again. We’ll have another community conversation, and we will take the feedback you’ve provided, and we will figure out how we do we share the information so that it is information that is important," said the Interim Superintendent during Thursday’s Board of Education Meeting.
The Thursday school board session is where MCPS shared some of the facts and figures participants were looking for Wednesday night.
For example, a graph showing the bus driver shortage last week showed Jan. 5 had the largest shortage with 208 drivers absent. The school board was told 70 drivers called out between 4:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
School leaders were also told prior to the start of the school year that MCPS had a bus driver shortage of around 140 drivers. School and transportation leaders got that number down, but it shot up again to a little over 110 drivers just before the winter break.
On teacher shortages, MCPS provided the snapshot of substitute teacher requests for next week. The graphic showed at least 889 requests are already in for Monday, January 13th. A little over half were still unfilled by the time of the presentation.
MCPS also told the school board they hired 550 new subs since the beginning of the school year and processed around double the amount of applications, but the hiring process takes time.
MCPS also told the school board it was updating virtual education with changes likely in effect or being shared next week. Part of those plans include teachers recording the same lessons they’re teaching classes to have virtual instruction more in-line with in-person instruction on the elementary level.
For secondary students, teachers will decide whether to have the students Zoom-in for live instruction or meet virtually during a non-instruction period.
School leaders confirmed MCPS will support those students whose parents are keeping them home at least until Jan. 31 and the school system is working to confirm and clarify lawful versus unlawful absences.