The Montgomery County Council of PTAs kicked off the 1978-79 academic year last week with a meeting that touched on a variety of educational concerns, from the effects of proposed tax reductions to how citizens can get more involved in schools.
In a welcoming address, Superintendent Charles M. Bernardo asked the approximately 250 PTA members meeting at Einstein Senior High School to "assist the public school system in its continuing quest for greatness."
Among the school system's recent successes, Bernardo said, were high test scores, money diverted to educational uses from closed schools, and improved race relations resulting from integration efforts.
School board Vice President Daryl Shaw told parents and teachers that county schools "may be in for a difficult time" if the TRIM tax reduction proposal is approved. The proposal wil be Question E on the general election ballot Nov. 7.
If adopted TRIM would reduce the county general property tax rate from $2.60 per $100 of assessed value to $2.25 - a move Bernardo estimates could force a $20 to $25 million reduction in current public school services. The board has taken a position against TRIM, citing the adverse effect it would have on public school programs.
Robert Schaffner, executive assistant to the superintendent, briefly outlined the advantages of the school system's complicated administrative reorganization, whihc became effective in July.
"The primary goal is to improve support for teachers," noted Schaffner, who said the reorganization "focuses more and better support on local schools." He said the new administrative organization is "fltter with fewer bureaucratic layers" and groups together offices with related functions.
A panel of administrators, principals and teachers discussed community involvment in the school system. Moderator Floretta McKenzie, deputy school superintendent, urged parents to participate in decision-making at their local schools.
Springbrook High School principal Tom Marshall asked PTA members "not to back off from senior high schools. Senior high is not the time to get tired - it's the time to get involved."
Montgomery County Education Association president Harry Heller said the way to involve teachers in PTA activities is to work with them. "Make them a part of the process," he said. "But if parents don't come forward, don't expect teachers to carry the PTA."
"What concerns you the most about public education is Montgomery County?" At the recent Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, staff writer Carol Krucoff and photographer Craig Heradon asked members their views. CAPTION: Picture 1, John Schultheis, Silver Sprng. "I'm concerned to make sure there are enough resources to provide students with the same opportunities now that Montgomery County students have had over the past years. There is constantly talk about cutting back on things like personnel and facilities. For instance, my child's kindergarten class this year has 30 students, which is a higher number of students than I prefer."; Picture 2, Meerle Steiner, Chevy Chase: "Discipline concerns me, especially when you read in the paper about the drug problems. I have a daughter in junior high school, and apparently things go on in the bathrooms in the county that either teachers ignore or don't know how to deal with. I think they should patrol the bathrooms. Also there isn't a lot of positive reinforcement for those students who get their homework in and enough negative reinforcement for those who don't."; Picture 3, Mary Gamble, Takoma Park: "The closing of so many schools is of concern to me. It hasn't affected my daughter yet, but it will affect her in the future. I think it's bad if they close to many schools prematurely."; Picture 4, Steven Seleznow, Bethesda: "As a PTA member and as a teacher, my concern is that teachers are underpaid for what they are required to do. When you figure out the hours that teachers put in, they make about $3 an hour. I come in to work at 7:30 in the morning and leave at 5 p.m., not including the three or four nights a week that I check papers at home."; Picture 5, Nancy B. Nathan, Bethesda: "I'm sure I share this concern with many parents - that children should be able to make the most of their ability in all ways. Tailoring programs to the individual child is important. I'm concerned about children at both ends of the scale, and am especially interested in programs for gifted and talented children and children with special needs like learning disabled, handicapped and hearing impaired children."; Picture 6, Bob Prien, Germantown: "My concern is overcrowded classrooms. Class size is too large, and too much money is spent on administrative programs and hierarchy rather than on books, supplies and teaching material."; Picture 7, Virginia Guy, Kensington: "I think it's super. But I would like to see children learn to write more. I feel they've gone away from this in the past, but to write is to think, so I feel it's important.; Picture 8, Mimi Darrow, Bethesday: "I guess the thing that concerns me most would be class size. We would like smaller class size than they have now. Historically they've been large, with sometimes over 30 students in one class. I feel the teachers could handle smaller classes better, and the instruction would be better with lower class size."