2021 | Schools

Contracts awarded for installation of MCPS water bottle filling stations

Plus: MCPS special education leader hired by Charles County schools; Hundreds of MCPS retirees honored

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Contracts awarded for installation of MCPS water bottle filling stations

The Montgomery County Board of Education on Thursday awarded contracts to three companies tasked with installing water bottle filling stations at nearly 100 schools.

A total cost was not provided in school board documents, but MCPS officials had previously estimated it would be about $1.5 million. Contracts were awarded to:

• Denver-Elek of Baltimore
• Mallick Mechanical Contractors of Gaithersburg
• Shapiro & Duncan of Rockville

MCPS plans to use funds from its capital or operating budgets to fund the project, then be “reimbursed” with federal grants. Specifically, MCPS plans to apply for funds through the elementary and secondary school emergency relief fund, created to help schools across the country address issues in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to school board documents, 75 elementary schools, 15 middle schools and two high schools do not have any filling stations. The goal is to ensure every school has at least two filling stations and to have them installed by the fall.

In recent years, the filling stations have been installed as part of other construction projects at schools, or if they were purchased by parent-teacher associations or other community organizations.

School district officials said student advocacy over the past three years is what finally pushed the initiative forward.

Since at least 2018, students have advocated for the filling stations, highlighting the need for filtered water. They have also argued that the stations are more environmentally friendly because they reduce the need for single-use plastic water bottles.

In 2018, MCPS spent approximately $415,000 on single-use water bottles given out during lunch. The school district purchased more than 3 million plastic water bottles, according to MCPS data.

MCPS special education leader hired by Charles County schools

Kevin Lowndes, the associate superintendent of special education in MCPS, was appointed this week as deputy superintendent of Charles County Public Schools.

In a press release announcing the appointment, Charles County Public Schools wrote that its school board approved Lowndes’ appointment in a unanimous vote on Monday.

As deputy superintendent, Lowndes will “offer support, leadership and vision to schools in the areas of curriculum and instruction, assessment, special education, student services and other school programs,” according to the press release.

Previously, Lowndes was a principal at Wheaton High School and assistant principal at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

In Charles County, Lowndes will join former MCPS Chief Academic Officer Maria Navarro. Navarro took over as Charles County’s superintendent on July 1.

Charles County has an enrollment of about 27,000 students.

Hundreds of MCPS retirees honored

Hundreds of MCPS retirees were thanked for their work during Thursday’s school board meeting.

About 650 people were recognized in a resolution during the meeting, an annual occurrence in MCPS. The number of retirees is comparable to pre-pandemic numbers.

In 2019, 652 retirees were honored.

The longest-tenured person on this year’s list was Connie L. Pokress, a teacher at Walter Johnson High School, who was employed by MCPS for 54 years.

Certificates will be mailed to each retiree this month. A traditional in-person celebration will not be held due to the pandemic, according to district officials.