Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland)

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Montgomery County Public Schools
850 Hungerford Drive
 Rockville,  Maryland 20850

District information
TypePublic / suburban school district
Established1860; 158 years ago (1860)
SuperintendentDr. Jack R. Smith[1][2]
Students and staff
Enrollment161,546 (2017–2018)
Other information
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is a public school district that serves Montgomery County, Maryland. With 206 schools, it is the largest school district in the state of Maryland, and the 14th largest in the United States. As of the 2017–2018 school year, the district had 13,094 teachers serving 161,546 students at 205 schools.[3] In 2010, MCPS was awarded a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The county spends approximately half of its annual budget on its public school system.[4] The Board of Education includes a student member who has full voting rights, except in certain cases. The superintendent of schools is Dr. Jack R. Smith.


Until 1860, private schools existed in Montgomery County for those who could afford an education. Montgomery County Public Schools was established in 1860 for white children. The school system got off to a shaky start — the Civil War caused local schools to be disabled, vandalized and closed. Depredations by both Union and Confederate armies caused schools to close in 1862 and they didn't reopen until 1864.[5]

In 1872, the Maryland General Assembly appropriated state money so there could be schools for children of color and the county established a segregated school system.[6]

In 1892, Rockville High School opened; it later was named Richard Montgomery High School. The high school is the oldest in the county. The first class of 12 seniors graduated in 1897.[7] Gaithersburg High School, the second high school to serve the county, was established in 1904.[8]

In the 1900s, the school budget started to see the effects of suburbanization. In 1908, there were 6,483 students and a budget of $76,000. The school system saw even more growth in 1912 after the United States Congress passed a "non-resident" law that excluded Montgomery County school children from enrolling in Washington, D.C., schools, which were known for their higher quality. By 1921, the school budget had grown to more than $316,000.[6]

Edwin W. Broome, who was superintendent 1916–1953, combined one-room schoolhouses into multi-room operations at the beginning of his tenure, reducing the number of schools from 108 to 66 by 1949. At that point, school enrollment was over 22,000. When Broome took the job, there were five high schools, all upcounty (the northern portion of the county). He built two secondary schools for Silver Spring and two for Bethesda, and also pushed high schools to add the 12th grade.[5]

In the early 1950s, elementary students of color attended one of four elementary schools — Linden, Ken-Gar, Takoma Park, and River Road — all of which were considered substandard.[9][10] Older students of color attended Lincoln Junior High School and George Washington Carver High School in Rockville.[9][10] Montgomery County was the one of the first seven counties in Maryland to start to desegregate its public schools, which it began in September 1955, following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that ordered the desegregation of all schools nationwide.[11][12] [13] Montgomery County completed the integration of its schools in 1960–1961.[5]

In 1961, the school system had 85,000 students and a $70 million budget, and had become the largest system in the Washington suburbs.[5]

Woodward High School's parking lot, in Bethesda, May 1973, from the U.S. National Archives.

Enrollment topped out around 126,000 in the mid-1970s and dropped to below 100,000 in 1980, causing some schools to close. Enrollment continued to decline through the mid-1980s. However, with more than 96,000 students and 13,000 staff members in 155 schools in 1986, the school system was still one of the 20 largest in the nation.[6] Enrollment was back over 100,000 by 1990.[5]

Dr. Paul L. Vance became the county's first black superintendent in 1991, when there were 107,000 students and 174 schools. When he left in 1999, MCPS had 129,000 students in 185 schools. Over the next 10 years, enrollment grew to more than 150,000.[5]

In 2018, the district has 206 schools and more more than 161,000 students.[14]

The Board of Education[edit]

The Board of Education provides leadership and oversight for MCPS by setting goals, establishing policies, and committing resources to benefit our diverse student population. The board’s work is guided by its vision, mission, core purpose, and core values.[15] The county's first Board of Education was named by legislative enactments in 1817.[16] That board consisted of nine men. A woman was appointed to the board in 1920. Mrs. A. Dawson Trumble served a five-year term that led to a steady succession of female members.[16]

Prior to 1961, separate schools were maintained for black children. At that time, students from Rockville's George Washington Carver High School were rezoned to the previously all-white schools across the county.[17]

The eight-member school board includes a student member who middle- and high-school students from across the system elect to a one-year term. David Naimon, the first student member of the board, served during the 1978–1979 school year.[18] The student member has full voting rights, except in certain cases.[18] The student member of the board can vote on matters related to collective bargaining, capital and operating budgets, and school closings, re–openings and boundaries. The student member of the board cannot vote on negative personnel actions. The student member of the board is not paid, but receives a $5,000 college scholarship, student service learning hours, and one honors-level social studies credit.[19]

An MCPS school bus depot in Potomac, March 2010.

The Smondrowski amendment[edit]

On November 11, 2014, the Board approved an amendment, introduced by member Rebecca Smondrowski (District 2), to modify the school calendar to remove all references to the major Christian and Jewish religious holidays of Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah. The amendment was in response to a campaign by the community-based initiative “Equality for Eid” (E4E), which sought for Montgomery County Public School closures on the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.[20][21] Muslim leaders had been focusing their recognition efforts on the 2015−2016 school year, when Eid ­al-Adha fell on the same calendar day as Yom Kippur, and therefore the County schools were already scheduled for closure.[22]

The Smondrowski amendment received both national and international attention.[23][24] Criticism of the amendment came from a variety of sources, including Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Congressman John Delaney.[25]


The MCPS student population has continued to grow over the years. The district saw a record enrollment of more than 161,000 students at the start of the 2017−2018 school year.[26]

Graduates from the class of 2018 earned $364.4 million in college scholarships, an increase of more than $14 million over the previous year.[27]

The class of 2017 outperformed their peers in the state of Maryland, and the nation as a whole, on Advanced Placement (AP) exams, based on AP Cohort Results released by the College Board. In 2017, more than 7,000 MCPS graduates (66.2%) took one or more AP exams. The percentage of students receiving a college-ready score of 3 or higher on at least one exam rose to 52.1%; this was higher than the 31.2% of the public school graduates in Maryland and 22.8% of the national graduates.[28]

The school system boasts many prominent graduates, including Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis, who attended Magruder High School;[29] journalist Connie Chung, a Montgomery Blair High School graduate;[30] director/screenwriter Spike Jonze, who graduated from Walt Whitman High School;[31] comedian Lewis Black, who graduated from Springbrook High School;[32] journalist John Harwood, who graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School;[33] singer Tori Amos, who graduated from Richard Montgomery High School;[34] and singer Joan Jett, who attended Wheaton High School, among others.


MCPS is committed to teaching and learning. During the 2017-2018 school year, the district launched data dashboards to focus on learning, accountability and results. Continuous monitoring of students’ progress ensures that students have timely support, focused interventions, acceleration, and enrichment. Readiness data helps the district to monitor students' progress and plan accordingly.[35]

The district has placed an emphasis on preparing students for both college and career. In April 2018, the College Board and Project Lead the Way awarded more than 3,000 students in the U.S. for their accomplishments in the 2016-2017 academic year. Compared to other school districts, MCPS had the most students who’d earned the AP + PLTW Student Achievements, followed by districts in Illinois and Texas, and its neighboring Howard County Public School System in Maryland. Wheaton High School, which focuses on project-based learning, had the second-most students with the achievement, behind Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Illinois.[36]

Every high school offers courses linked to a variety of careers. A program implemented at Magruder High School during the 2018—2019 school year allows students to get a head start on careers in aviation.[37]

In May 2018, students from Northwest High School were the first in the district to graduate with a two-year degree in general engineering from Montgomery College as well as a high school diploma.[38] In May 2018, five Northwood High School students were the first MCPS students to complete the Middle College Program at their school, which allowed them to earn an associate's degree from Montgomery College as well as a high school diploma.[39]

Language immersion programs are offered at several elementary and middle schools.[40]


MCPS publishes school data annually. Its “Schools at a Glance” provides, in a single document, information about enrollment, staffing, facilities, programs, outcome measures, and personnel costs for each school.[41]

The district boasts 39 National Blue Ribbon Schools, a designation that recognizes public and private schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.[42]

The school system is piloting longer school years at two elementary schools — Arcola and Roscoe Nix elementary schools — during the 2018-2019 school year.[43] The plan aims to help economically disadvantaged students, who lose the most ground during long summer breaks.


  1. ^ "Dr. Jack Smith Conditionally Appointed as Next Superintendent of Schools". February 4, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  2. ^ "Superintendent of Schools — Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, MD". July 1, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Montgomery County Public Schools At a Glance" (PDF). Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  4. ^ Turque, Bill (April 17, 2013). "Spending on schools likely to skyrocket". The Washington Post. p. 1B.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Offutt, William (Spring 2016). "The Superintendents of Our Schools". The Montgomery County Story. Vol. 59. The Montgomery County Historical Society.
  6. ^ a b c "Our History and Government - Montgomery County, MD" (PDF). Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  7. ^ "History of Richard Montgomery High School — About Our School — Quick Links". Richard Montgomery High School. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  8. ^ "Gaithersburg High School", Wikipedia, 2018-08-08, retrieved 2018-08-08
  9. ^ a b Stern, Laurence (June 5, 1955). "Montgomery Plans Integration in Part". The Washington Post. ProQuest. p. A9.
  10. ^ a b Stern, Laurence (June 18, 1955). "136 Negro Secondary Students Request Transfers to White Schools". The Washington Post. ProQuest. p. 17.
  11. ^ "Integration in 7 Md. counties: Report two minor incidents". Baltimore Afro-American. ProQuest. September 17, 1955. p. 14.
  12. ^ "School Bells Call 156,000 Back to Classes Today: Fares Go Up, Too". The Washington Post. September 12, 1955. p. 1.
  13. ^ "Court Orders School Desegregation On Local Basis". The Baltimore Sun. ProQuest. June 1, 1955. p. 1.
  14. ^ "Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, MD". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  15. ^ "Board of Education — Members — Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, MD". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  16. ^ a b "For first time, Montgomery school board will be entirely led by women". The Washington Post. 2018-06-29. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  17. ^ "From Segregation to Integration: Two Black Teachers Look Back — Integration in Montgomery County was slow, but fairly smooth". Potomac Almanac. Alexandria, Virginia: The Connection Newspapers. 2005-02-14. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  18. ^ a b St. George, Donna (2016-03-16). "Legislation would expand student voting rights on Maryland school board". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  19. ^ "Ananya Tadikonda To Be Sworn In As Student Member of the Board July 9" (Press release). Rockville, Maryland: Montgomery County Public Schools. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  20. ^ "CAIR-MD Launches 'Equality for Eid' Campaign for Muslim School Holidays". 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  21. ^ St. George, Donna (2014-11-14). "Holidays' names stricken from next year's Montgomery schools calendar". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  22. ^ Henneberger, Melinda (2014-11-12). "No Muslim holiday on Montgomery County school calendar isn't fair or 'PC'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  23. ^ "Maryland county: No school holiday for Eid ad-Adha, and none for Christmas, Yom Kippur either". Haaretz. November 14, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  24. ^ Delaney, John (November 12, 2014). "Delaney Statement on Montgomery County Board of Education Decision on Religious Holidays" (Press release). Washington, D.C.: Congressman John Delaney. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  25. ^ St. George, Donna (2017-09-05). "School year opens in Maryland with enrollment surge in Montgomery County". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  26. ^ "MCPS Seniors Earn More Than $364 Million in Scholarships" (Press release). Rockville, Maryland: Montgomery County Public Schools. Retrieved 2018-07-19.
  27. ^ "MCPS Students Lead State and Nation in Advanced Placement Success" (Press release). Rockville, Maryland: Montgomery County Public Schools. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  28. ^ "Helen Maroulis", Wikipedia, 2018-05-22, retrieved 2018-08-08
  29. ^ "Connie Chung — 15 Celebrities Who Grew Up Here". Bethesda Magazine. Bethesda, Maryland: Kohanza Media Ventures. 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  30. ^ "Spike Jonze — 15 Celebrities Who Grew Up Here". Bethesda Magazine. Bethesda, Maryland: Kohanza Media Ventures. 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  31. ^ "Lewis Black — 15 Celebrities Who Grew Up Here". Bethesda Magazine. Bethesda, Maryland: Kohanza Media Ventures. 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  32. ^ "John Harwood (journalist)", Wikipedia, 2018-07-11, retrieved 2018-08-08
  33. ^ "Tori Amos", Wikipedia, 2018-08-06, retrieved 2018-08-08
  34. ^ "MCPS Data Dashboard — Strategic Planning Committee". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  35. ^ Rodgers, Bethany (2018-04-23). "MCPS Takes First Place in Ranking on College-Preparedness, STEM Career Readiness". Bethesda Magazine. Bethesda, Maryland: Kohanza Media Ventures. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  36. ^ Hicks, Mitti (2018-05-15). "Magruder High School takes new flight with aviation program". MyMCMedia. Rockville, Maryland: Montgomery Community Media. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  37. ^ MCPSTV (2018-05-30), Northwest MC2 2018 graduates, retrieved 2018-08-08
  38. ^ MCPSTV (2018-05-30), Northwood High School MC2 2018 Graduates, retrieved 2018-08-08
  39. ^ "Montgomery County Public Schools: Special Programs — Foreign Language Immersion Programs". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  40. ^ "At a Glance Reports — Office of Shared Accountability (OSA) — Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, MD". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  41. ^ "Bannockburn and Luxmanor Elementary Schools Selected as Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools" (Press release). Rockville, Maryland: Montgomery County Public Schools. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  42. ^ St. George, Donna. "As poverty rises, one Maryland school system tries a longer school year". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Retrieved 2018-08-08.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°5′43″N 77°9′30″W / 39.09528°N 77.15833°W / 39.09528; -77.15833