The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

    Superintendent holds student press conference


    Superintendent Joshua Starr held a press conference with reporters from high school newspapers Oct. 18 to discuss MCPS issues and introduce himself to the community.


    Starr focused on variability, which is the difference in levels of academic achievement across Montgomery County. He also discussed budget cuts, increases in class sizes and the new attendance policy.

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    “Variability is the biggest challenge before us,” Starr said. “There are differences in performance and access between the schools. There needs to be a level of excellence.”


    In order to attain excellence in each Montgomery County school, Starr plans not only to create policies from the central office but also to be present in the classroom.


    “I like to see actual people in classes,” Starr said. “We think things are happening, but are they really?”


    Starr’s administration will also be deciding where to make budget cuts.


    “I have no interest in cutting extracurricular activities,” Starr said. “It is unfortunate that tough choices have to be made at different times. I do not get to choose how much money we have; I just get to invest it.”


    According to Starr, the budget cuts have led to increased class sizes, and educators are concerned about the effects on students. According to Principal Joan Benz, classes at CHS have one to two more students this year than they did last year.


    “I have five classes with 33 kids,” Foundations of Technology teacher David Hurless said. “It severely limits the amount of time I can give to each student which limits the effectiveness of course material and limits the time I can spend with those students who need extra time.”


    Even though many dislike the fact that classes are larger this year, Benz focuses on the positives.


    “At this point, we do not have a choice,” Benz said. “I believe our teachers are doing a good job with higher enrollment. As a result of this, more students are forming study groups, so some good things are coming out of this too.”


    Starr is also concerned about pushing students into high-level math courses at young ages.


    “We are going down the wrong path,” Starr said. “Kids should not be compared or put against each other.”


    Because some students are upset with the new attendance policy, high school principals are working with Starr to come up with alternatives. A new plan will be on Starr’s desk by April.


    “The new attendance policy is strict,” freshman Alexa Liss said. “It is partially fair because last year many students could skip school without receiving a consequence. With the new policy, it encourages students to attend school because of the harsh consequences.”


    According to Benz, the old attendance policy caused student attendance to drop at CHS.


    “The motivated students were in school last year,” Benz said. “For the students who were not as motivated, their attendance decreased.”


    However, Starr believes that there is more to a good education than just attending school.


    “I am not committed to the idea that seat time means learning,” Starr said. “It is important to be in class, but more important to learn. By April there will be a new policy recommendation on my desk. This needs to be revisited.”


    For information regarding town hall meetings and Starr’s Listen and Learn Events, visit

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    Superintendent holds student press conference