The hottest ticket in town apparently isn't to a performance at Strathmore. Instead, there's a scramble for a seat on the newly reconstituted citizen advisory committee that will work with Montgomery County public officials on the rewrite of the health education curriculum.

Board President Patricia O'Neill (District 3-Bethesda) said she's already been the target of aggressive lobbying by interest groups and community members seeking a spot at the table. As you might recall, the board dissolved the advisory committee in May as part of an effort to get a fresh start on curriculum revisions. But because membership on the committee has been halved -- from 30 to 15 members -- many groups are jockeying for a seat.

The board tentatively decided last week that seven seats will be set aside for representatives of organizations and eight will be "at-large" spots for community members without affiliation. Note that three of the organizational seats are already taken. As part of the settlement agreement after a lawsuit over the sex-ed curriculum, both Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC) and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) will have seats on the committee.

To ensure that students have their say too, the board tentatively voted to give the third seat to a representative from the Montgomery County Region of Maryland Association of Student Councils. One "at-large" seat has also tentatively been set aside for a Montgomery County high school student.

Then there was the "Romero Proposal." Board member Gabe Romero (District 1-Gaithersburg) suggested that instead of setting aside seats for specific organizations, the board review all the applications and decide what organizations would get seats. That way, Romero reasoned, the board could get the best applicants, without limits.

The board will make its final decision at an evening meeting July 27. Expect a full house and a lot of action.

Kudos to Crossing Guard

Patricia Ford does her job and she does it well. She makes sure that students crossing the congested intersection in front of Bethesda's Ashburton Elementary make it to school safe and sound. And she's done it proudly for more than a decade.

Her efforts as a crossing guard have even caught the eye of an anonymous donor who set up a scholarship fund in Ford's name to be given to a deserving student patrol member.

Now, there is more praise. Ford and educational facilities officer P. J. Gregory have been honored with the Lieutenant John M. Queen Outstanding Service Award. The Queen Award, given out since 2003, was named in honor of the officer who was in charge of the school safety section and who played a pivotal role in establishing the Montgomery County Police Crossing Guard program.

Gregory is a peacemaker among parents, students and staff in the Quince Orchard cluster. He helps mediate disputes among students and works hard to bring people together in a way that avoids conflict. Last year, at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, he met weekly with fifth-graders to talk about the importance of education and the dangers of smoking -- and he still found time to participate in a few jam sessions at Ridgeview Middle School, where he plays saxophone in the jazz band.

Broadwater Steps Down

Tom Broadwater, one of the leaders of African American Parents of Magnet School Applicants, a group formed in January (and which later changed its name to African American Parents of Montgomery County), has announced he'll be stepping down from his leadership role with the grass-roots organization. His wife has accepted a new job and the family will be relocating to South America.

Broadwater and the AAPMSA group gained notoriety in March after raising questions about the admissions procedures for Montgomery County public schools' middle school magnet programs. They noted that black and Hispanic student admission rates lagged behind those of their white and Asian counterparts. After new admissions data showed the numbers of black and Hispanic students admitted to the program almost doubled for the 2005-06 school year, the group changed its focus to overall achievement among minority students in the school system.

In June, the group announced it was joining forces with community groups, including the NAACP Parents' Council, Montgomery County Education Forum and Progressive Maryland.