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N2N Initiative—Board of Education’s New Method of Outreach

Recently, Montgomery County Public Schools launched a new initiative called Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N), which creates a platform for community members to discuss important issues in Montgomery County.

The goal is to gather a wide variety of input from community-based organizations within MCPS, a prospect essential to fair representation in the school system’s decision making body.

“A budget is about more than money – it’s about what we value. We want people to have open, candid conversations about the areas of the budget that matter most to them,” says Dr. Starr, “these discussions should focus on what our community values about the school system.”

With the new initiative, MCPS asks PTAs, PTSAs, and organizations in the county to host discussions and to follow the four steps in its N2N toolkit: gather a group and choose a location, watch a video and review documents, have a conversation, and share thoughts. The toolkit is available on the N2N website.

After holding their discussions, the groups are requested to send their meeting minutes to the Department of Public Information and Web Services. This way, the Board of Education can utilize their inputs to make new plans. Any organization with an interest in MCPS can participate in the project; the community conversations can be formal or informal.

The first topic to be discussed is the MCPS Operating Budget. Groups are encouraged to share concerns and suggestions about the current fiscal budget. They should also voice their priorities in the notes they email to BOE. Other resources, including abridged overviews of the MCPS Capital Budget, can be found online and at the Carver’s Education Services Center.

All notes will be presented to the Board of Education and Joshua Starr, the Superintendent of Schools, as they prepare the recommended budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

For more information, please visit the Neighbor to Neighbor webpage at http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/neighbor-to-neighbor/

By Christina McCann, SAC Press Correspondent

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