When Montgomery County students return to school at the end of August, many of them will have interactive whiteboards in their classrooms for the first time. And chances are, if they go to school east of Interstate 270, the technology will be more foreign to them than for their peers on the other side of the county.
Of the 29 schools that recently received or will receive the smartboards in the district for the first time, only five elementary schools are west of I-270.
The difference highlights the growing class divide in Montgomery, which district and county officials say is being exacerbated by private fundraising paying for public school improvements.
The district spent millions of dollars to buy the boards for all elementary schools after parents and teachers said it was unfair that parent-teacher associations in wealthier parts of they county were raising money to privately pay for the technology.
The unequal distribution of the smartboards — increasingly replacing chalkboards in classrooms — is just one of the reasons the County Council and Board of Education are now reviewing district policies on privately raised money paying for amenities at schools that could give students from affluent communities more academic and social advantages. School and county officials say a sharp increase in the number of high-dollar, privately funded projects coming to them for approval also has prompted them to consider policy reforms for improvements that are not funded with taxpayer dollars.
Here’s a map and list of the schools that received or will receive the smartboards for the first time because of the school system’s recent spending initiative to get the technology in all elementary schools. All are expected to be installed in schools by the start of the new academic year:
Dr. Charles R. Drew