New Contracts, Calendar

The Montgomery County Board of Education and the school system's three employee unions signed multiyear contracts last week that include 2 percent salary increases for teachers and administrative and supporting services staff members.

The contracts also include $3 million in cuts to insurance costs.

As a result of the contract with the Montgomery County Education Association, the teachers union, three days previously scheduled as professional days have been rescheduled as school days for the 2004-05 calendar: Oct. 1, Jan. 25 and April 29.

Teachers will report to work Aug. 24 instead of Aug. 23. School will still start Aug. 30 and will end June 15, 2005, instead of June 16.

Grading Changes Delayed

In January, the Board of Education unanimously approved a timetable to implement a new grading policy in an attempt to ease parents, teachers and administrators into a different way of measuring student achievement.

One date is being pushed back. Instead of starting the policy at the beginning of the 2004-05 school year, the board voted last week to give high schools until fall 2005 to begin. The new policy aims to make sure grades reflect academic achievement only and not aspects such as behavior or effort.

High school principals had asked for more time to prepare their schools for the new policy.

The first attempt to introduce the grading policy was scrapped immediately at the beginning of this school year because of widespread confusion. The board laid out a new schedule over five years, with checkpoints along the way to make sure everyone is ready for the next step.

Seniors' Career Plans

Look out for a slew of business executives, public relations officers, journalists, engineers and doctors in five or 10 years.

Of the 88 percent of Montgomery County's graduating seniors who completed a recent survey on their plans, 31 percent of those going to college said they plan to study business, 23 percent said communications, another 23 percent said engineering and scientific research, and 21 percent said medicine and bioscience.

Sixty-six percent of respondents to the survey, conducted by the school system's Office of Shared Accountability, said they planned to attend four-year colleges, 26 percent planned to attend two-year colleges, 7 percent said they would work full time and 4 percent are headed to the military.

The University of Maryland at College Park was the most popular place to apply, followed by Montgomery College, Towson University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Penn State.

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