MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

EDUCATION

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


For Montgomery County, the first school authorized was the Rockville Academy in 1809 (Chapter 152, Acts of 1809). Granted authority over all monies and property associated with the Academy, Richard Anderson, Solomon Holland, Lewis Beall, Jesse Leach, James Anderson, John Wootton, Joseph Elgar Jr. and Honore Martin were named Trustees. They drafted regulations; appointed principals, teachers, and assistants; and paid salaries of school employees. Meeting quarterly, they discussed school conditions, and student progress; heard complaints; and reported to the General Assembly. The Trustees appointed their own officers and filled vacancies. A private secondary school, the Rockville Academy continued until 1917 when it became the Rockville public elementary school.

In 1812, a State fund for county public schools was established (Chapter 180, Acts of 1812). The Treasurer of the Western Shore was to distribute monies from the fund among all the counties, including Montgomery; however, the funds raised were insufficient to support county schools.


BOARD OF EDUCATION

Montgomery County's Board of Education originated from several agencies, including the Trustees for the Education of Poor Children; the State School Fund Commissioners; the Board of Commissioners of the County School Fund; the County School Commissioners; the Managers of Primary Schools; the Board of Commissioners of Public Schools; and the Boards of County School Commissioners.

Trustees for the Education of Poor Children. In 1816, additional funds were authorized for public schools in five counties, including Montgomery (Chapter 244, Acts of 1816). In these counties, each levy court named Trustees for the Education of Poor Children. The Trustees (seven from each election district) were to take a census of poor children above eight years of age. A county collector was authorized to receive school taxes and pass those revenues to a treasurer of the County school fund.

State School Fund Commissioners. Also in 1816, the General Assembly appointed nine commissioners to oversee the State school fund in each county (Chapter 256, Acts of 1816). The commissioners were to “establish a central free school in each election district” and report back to the General Assembly on how funds were used. In the colonial period, free schools were defined as those with a curriculum that included “Latin, Greek, Writing, and the like” (Chapter 31, Acts of 1694). It is not clear in the 1816 law if the word “free” refers to the classical curriculum or lack of tuition.

By 1818, monies entrusted to Montgomery County’s Trustees for the Education of Poor Children were returned to the Levy Court to be overseen by the commissioners of the State school fund (Chapter 200, Acts of 1818).

Board of Commissioners of the County School Fund. Montgomery County challenged State control of the school system in 1820 by establishing an independent, eleven-member board of commissioners of the County school fund to replace the nine commissioners appointed by the General Assembly (Chapter 165, Acts of 1820).

County School Commissioners. In 1825, a statewide public education system was formed (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). The justices of the levy court in each county were to appoint nine school commissioners who would divide the county into school districts. For each county, the levy court also appointed up to eighteen inspectors of primary schools. These inspectors examined teachers, issued teacher certificates, visited schools, gave suggestions to teachers and school trustees, and reported to the county school commissioners. Elected by the voters of each school district, three trustees purchased schoolhouse sites, repaired and furnished the schoolhouses, and hired all teachers within the district. Authorized to keep records of school commissioner meetings, a district clerk was elected by the voters annually. A district collector was to collect monies from school taxes. Also in 1825, Montgomery County authorized its Orphans' Court to name school commissioners whenever vacancies occurred (Chapter 181, Acts of 1825).

The nine school commissioners in Montgomery County were reduced to three in 1830 (Chapter 178, Acts of 1830). Annually, they met with the Levy Court to receive a list of children "whose parents or guardians shall claim the beneficial aid of these funds".

Managers of Primary Schools. In 1838, the Montgomery County School Commissioners were empowered to appoint annually a manager of primary schools for each of the five election districts (Chapter 327, Acts of 1838). Managers divided the election districts into school districts, appointed a clerk to keep records of meetings, and drew funds from the treasurer of the County school fund. They also determined the school curriculum, assigned books, visited each school at least once a year, examined teacher candidates, and suspended or expelled students. These duties later would be assigned to county superintendents. By 1839, for each election district, three managers of primary schools would be appointed annually (Chapter 100, Acts of 1839).

Board of Commissioners of Public Schools. School commissioners in Montgomery County were reorganized as the Board of Commissioners of Public Schools in 1860 (Chapter 31, Acts of 1860). A commissioner was appointed in each election district by the Orphans' Court to serve a two-year term. Along with previous duties, the Board was authorized to hire teachers and set salaries. Additionally, the Board assumed responsibilities of the managers of primary schools to determine school curriculum, examine teacher candidates, issue teacher certificates, and enforce rules and regulations.

Boards of County School Commissioners. In 1865, the State Board of Education called for a "uniform system of Free Public Schools" (Chapter 160, Acts of 1865). The public school system became centralized; "supervision and control of Public Instruction" was vested in the State Board of Education. The State Board appointed boards of county school commissioners in each county to serve four-year terms. Three years later, boards of county school commissioners regained control and supervision over county schools (Chapter 407, Acts of 1868). The public school system no longer was accountable to the State Board of Education. Within each county, voters elected county school commissioners, from each election district, to two-year terms. These school commissioners had custody over schoolhouse property and were expected to pay teacher salaries.

For all counties, including Montgomery, the school commissioners reorganized in 1870 (Chapter 311, Acts of 1870). County circuit court judges appointed three school commissioners for their respective counties. At the same time, the Board of State School Commissioners (previously named the State Board of Education) was reformed.

In 1892, the Governor gained authority to appoint county school commissioners (Chapter 341, Acts of 1892). That year, three school commissioners were appointed for Montgomery County to serve six-year terms. By 1900, the Governor was to take into consideration minority party representation when appointing county school commissioners (Chapter 29, Acts of 1900).

Board of Education. Boards of county school commissioners were renamed boards of education in 1916 (Chapter 506, 1916). They were to be appointed by the Governor without regard to political affiliation.

In 1951, the Montgomery County Board of Education was reorganized as an elected body, chosen by the voters of each school district (Chapter 364, Acts of 1951). Composed of seven members, the Board included one member from each of the five Council districts, and two at large members. To run for the Board, candidates were required to submit nominating petitions signed by 200 voters from each Council district and a petition signed by 500 voters for the two at-large seats. Petitions were to be filed with the Board of Elections.

Today, the Board of Education has control of education matters that affect Montgomery County (Code Education Article, secs. 4-101 through 4-126).

The Board continues to be elected by the voters in each school district (Code Education Article, sec. 3-114; Code Election Law Article, secs. 8-801 through 8-806). Candidates must be registered voters in the school district in which they run, must not have a relationship subject to the authority of the Board of Education, and must provide a personal financial disclosure statement. After meeting all qualifications, a candidate must submit a Certificate of Candidacy to appear on the ballot.

Seven of the Board of Education's eight members serve four-year terms. A student member is elected annually by the County's middle and high school students (Code Education Article, secs. 3-901 through 3-903). A president and vice-president for the Board are chosen annually in December (Code Education Article, sec. 4-107). The Superintendent of Schools serves as secretary, treasurer, and executive officer of the Board (Code Education Article, sec. 4-102).

DISTRICT BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES

District boards of school trustees originated in 1825 (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). They were to represent the voters of the school district. While their work supplemented that of the county boards of education, their duties shifted over time.

School District Trustees. For all Maryland counties, including Montgomery County, legislation was enacted in 1825 providing that three school district trustees would be elected annually by the voters in each school district (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). These trustees were authorized to purchase schoolhouse sites, build, furnish and repair schoolhouses, provide books, hire all teachers, and report semi-annually to the school commissioners. From the school commissioners, State monies were distributed to the school district trustees, who, in turn, were to pay teacher salaries.

District Commissioners. In 1860, duties assigned to the school district trustees of Montgomery County transferred to the county school commissioners (Chapter 31, 1860). The rest of the counties followed suit in 1865 (Chapter 160, Acts of 1865). County school commissioners served as "district commissioners" for school districts under their jurisdiction. They advised teachers on discipline, examined pupils, and were to convince the public of the value of education. For the first time, schools of different grades could be established by the district commissioners if the number of children between the ages six and eighteen exceeded 100.

District Boards. By 1868, school district trustees regained their former powers (Chapter 407, Acts of 1868). Reorganized as school district boards, they again assumed responsibility for all schoolhouses, land, and hiring of teachers in their districts. Each board had three members: the county school commissioner of the "election district in which the school-house [was] situated", and two members elected annually by the voters of the schoolhouse district. The elected members of the school district boards were to be representatives of the voters.

Boards of District School Commissioners. In 1870, school district boards were renamed boards of district school commissioners (Chapter 311, Acts of 1870). Thereafter, the county boards of school commissioners annually appointed them. Objections were raised that, by such appointment, district school commissioners no longer represented the voters since they were not elected. Nonetheless, the Board of State School Commissioners considered them representatives.

Boards of District Trustees. Boards of district school commissioners again reformed in 1892 as boards of district trustees (Chapter 515, Acts of 1892). They were allowed to choose their own officers.

In 1884, the State Board of Education recommended that three district trustees be replaced by one trustee (Annual Report of the State Board of Education, 1884, pp. 9-10). The State Board repeated this recommendation in 1898 and further recommended that teachers be appointed by committee since the district trustees were not experts on the school system (Annual Report of the State Board of Education, 1898, p. lxxix). By 1904, boards of district trustees lost their authority to appoint teachers (Chapter 584, Acts of 1904). In their stead, county superintendents nominated and county school commissioners appointed teachers.

The State Board of Education was concerned about losing public support for education, because the voters did not feel represented in the school system (Annual Report of the State Board of Education, 1904, p. 11). In an effort to maintain that support, the State Board permitted district trustees to appoint a "principal teacher", approved by the county school commissioners, who would join boards of district trustees as a secretary without a vote.

District Boards of School Trustees. In 1916, boards of district trustees reformed as district boards of school trustees (Chapter 506, Acts of 1916). Appointed to three-year terms by county boards of education, district school trustees were charged to suspend or expel students. Principal teachers, once appointed by district school trustees, now would be appointed by county superintendents. District school trustees continued to represent the voters in the education system and retained custody of school property (Annual Report of the State Board of Education, 1916, pp. 30-31).

By 1918, district boards of school trustees, by unanimous vote, could "refuse to accept the original assignment of any teacher" to schools under their jurisdiction (Chapter 381, Acts of 1918). However, the county superintendents only were required to name three teachers to the school trustees for appointment. School trustees were authorized in times of emergency to dismiss pupils or close schools. They also appointed janitors for each school.

In 1931, Montgomery County's District Board of School Trustees was exempted from the 1918 provision allowing them to hire janitors (Chapter 464, Acts of 1931). Instead, a supervisor of school property was named by the County Board of Education that same year (Chapter 491, Acts of 1931). The Supervisor was to appoint all school bus drivers and janitors, and oversee school construction and maintenance.

SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS

Responsibilities of the Superintendent of Schools derived from those of the School Inspectors; the Managers of Primary Schools; the County Examiners; and the County Superintendents of Public Education.

School Inspectors. The duties of county superintendents of schools first were assigned to school inspectors in 1825 (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). Levy courts annually were to appoint up to eighteen inspectors of primary schools for each county. The inspectors were to determine teacher qualifications, examine teachers, and issue teacher certificates. They also were expected to visit and examine schools, and offer suggestions to school district trustees. By 1835, the number of inspectors was reduced to three in each county (Chapter 278, Acts of 1835).

Managers of Primary Schools. For each election district, in 1838, the Montgomery County School Commissioners retained a manager of primary schools who assumed duties of the school inspectors (Chapter 327, Acts of 1838). Managers were to divide their election district into school districts, determine school curriculum, assign books, and suspend or expel students. Three managers were needed in each election district by 1839 (Chapter 100, Acts of 1839).

The Orphans' Court of Montgomery County was authorized in 1860 to appoint "one discreet, intelligent citizen" to manage the public schools for each election district (Chapter 31, Acts of 1860).

County Examiners. In 1868, county examiners assumed all duties of the managers of primary schools, and were expected to serve as secretary, treasurer, and executive agent for county boards of school commissioners (Chapter 407, Acts of 1868). Appointed by boards of county school commissioners, county examiners were to visit each school at least twice a year in counties having 50 or fewer schools, including Montgomery County. Additionally, they helped organize teacher associations at district, county and State levels; examined teachers (in the presence of three county school commissioners); and notified teachers of meetings. By 1870, county examiners were to visit each school three times each year (Chapter 311, Acts of 1870). They continued to examine teacher candidates, but now only in the presence of one county school commissioner.

County Superintendents of Public Education. In 1904, county examiners were renamed county superintendents of public education (Chapter 584, Acts of 1904). Three times a year, they were required to visit each school in counties with 60 or fewer teachers. Twice a year, they went to schools in counties having more than 60 teachers - among them, Montgomery County; and once in those counties with more than 175 teachers.

Superintendents of Schools. By 1916, county superintendents of public education were renamed superintendents of schools (Chapter 506, Acts of 1916). The new superintendents were authorized to execute the laws of the State Board of Education, interpret all school laws, and decide disputes of the county boards of education about rules and regulations. In addition, superintendents could recommend to the county boards of education that schools be repaired or condemned. They could nominate all principals and assistant teachers for appointment by the county boards, grade and standardize public schools, create a textbook list, and determine school curriculum. Since 1916, the county superintendent of schools has been appointed by the county board of education to four-year terms.

Serving as executive officer, secretary, and treasurer of the Board of Education, the Superintendent of Schools administers the County Public School System (Code Education Article, secs. 4-102; 4-201 through 4-206).

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Montgomery County Public Schools is governed by the County Board of Education (Code Education Article, secs. 4-101 through 4-126). In addition, through the review and approval of the annual operating and capital budgets, Montgomery County government exercises authority over the County Public Schools. Moreover, through the establishment and monitoring of various financial and academic policies and regulations, the State Department of Education also has considerable oversight of county public schools. Indeed, under Maryland law, the State Department of Education works with county public schools to comply with requirements and mandates of federal law.

In Montgomery County are 202 schools: 25 high schools, 38 middle schools, and 133 elementary schools, as well as a career and technology academy, and five special schools. In Fiscal Year 2014, some 151,295 students were enrolled in the County's public schools.


MONTGOMERY COLLEGE

Montgomery College originated as Montgomery Junior College. Opened in September 1946, the College was the first junior college to open in Maryland. It began by offering evening and Saturday classes at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. In 1950, the College moved to Takoma Park, and in 1965 started an additional campus at Rockville. Montgomery Junior College was renamed Montgomery College in 1969.

In 1978, Montgomery College opened at Germantown, its third campus.


DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES

When it opened on July 1, 1951, the Department of Public Libraries consisted of seven formerly independent libraries at Four Corners, Gaithersburg, Garrett Park, Noyes, Sherwood, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. In 1952, the independent Bethesda Library Association joined the system, followed by the Rockville Public Library System in 1957.

Today, the Department is responsible for library services at the County's twenty-three branches, the Correctional Facility, and the Disability Resource Center (County Code, secs. 2-44 through 2-54). Branch libraries include Aspen Hill (Rockville) (1967); Bethesda; Chevy Chase; Damascus; Davis (North Bethesda); Gatithersburg; Germantown; Kensington Park; Little Falls (Bethesda); Long Branch (Silver Spring); Marilyn J. Praisner (Burtonsville); Noyes (Kensington); Olney (1981); Poolesville; Potomac; Quince Orchard (Gaithersburg); Rockville Memorial; Silver Spring; Twinbrook (Rockville); Wheaton; and White Oak (Silver Spring).

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