MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County Schools superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight shared insights and goals for the year after the first two weeks of the school year. The school district has officially hit pre-pandemic levels, she noted, with a current student body of more than 161,000 students.
Luckily, the school district appears poised to meet the demand. The system continues to be 99% staffed, as first announced in late August. Dr. McKnight shared that although they have seen recent success in hiring, numbers can fluctuate daily, and therefore recruiting remains a constant.
The school district is still working to hire for 161 open full-time teaching positions, 34 part-time teaching positions and 30 bus driver positions as of Sept. 12. The superintendent encouraged anyone interested to move forward with applying.
The superintendent highlighted her three priorities moving forward, which are re-building trust with students, staff and the community, focusing on health and wellness for students and staff and returning to equitable teaching and learning coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She identified some impacts on students' academics that are still visible following the onset of the pandemic. Most notably, second and third graders whose learning was interrupted by COVID-19 in their foundational school years of kindergarten and first grade are in need of literacy support. Success in math is also lacking in middle schools across the board, according to McKnight, as well as in the county's high schools.
Official numbers tracking student progress are expected to be released and addressed around October, the superintendent said.
Dr. McKnight also shared details on how the district is working to hone in on the mental health of students by opening wellness centers in every school, although she did not specify the timeline for the goal's completion.
MCPS is also working to maintain a robust partnership with the county Department of Health and Human Services, and a new medical officer, Dr. Patricia Kapunan, will help cement that collaboration.
"Our students must be well and healthy and feel psychologically safe in order to learn their best," Dr. McKnight said.
The county also welcomed a new school, Harriet R. Tubman Elementary, in Gaithersburg this year. The school is now the 210th in the county and currently serves students in kindergarten through 4th grade and they'll be joined by 5th graders next school year.
The district also continues to work towards implementing an all-electric school bus fleet. Currently, they have the largest number in the state, although there is no specified timeline for when the full phase-in will be complete.
Watch the full briefing from Dr. McKnight below.