Small Business University: Nancy Navarro

Councilmember Navarro on County’s Partnership with the Rales Foundation

Montgomery County Council Forms New Public-Private Partnership Aimed at Closing the Achievement Gap


Councilmember Nancy Navarro Forms Partnership with Rales Foundation to Bring ‘Building Educated Leaders for Life’ Program to Montgomery County Public Schools

 ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 12, 2015—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro at 2:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, will be joined at the Council Office Building in Rockville by Council President George Leventhal; Councilmember Craig Rice, who chairs the Council’s Education Committee; Joshua Rales, president and trustee of the Norman R. and Ruth Rales Foundation; Patricia O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education; and Lauren Gilbert, vice president of program impact and innovation of the Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) program, to announce a new public-private partnership to help close the achievement gap.

Councilmember Navarro will explain this exciting partnership that will bring the new, data-driven summer program for second and third graders to the County. BELL provides a proven program to address the knowledge gap that occurs among students during the summer months. The program has served more than 100,000 students since 1992 and receives financial support from the Rales Foundation.

“As a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and a former member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, I know that early interventions and programs that reach children during out-of-school time are required to close the achievement gap,” said Councilmember Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and is a member of the Council’s Education Committee. “BELL provides students with a holistic program that not only spurs educational achievement, but also provides enrichment activities and emphasizes health and nutrition. This program has a proven track record and data-driven results. I can’t wait for our students to become BELL scholars.”

The BELL Program is a five-to-six week summer program with a staffing plan that includes Montgomery County Public Schools certified teachers and teaching assistants. The program focuses on literacy, science, math, technology, arts and health. BELL also provides breakfast and lunch to students daily and includes hands-on enrichment, field trips and community projects.

In Montgomery County, the BELL Program will focus on second and third grade students because, according to the organization, “reading proficiency by the end of the third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career and life success.”

“The Rales Foundation is very excited about its new partnership with BELL and Montgomery County to bring a much needed, time tested summer program targeting ‘at risk’ second and third graders to improve their literacy and math skills,” said Mr. Rales. “Having been raised in Montgomery County by our parents, Norman and Ruth, my brothers Steven, Mitchell and I attended Montgomery County Public Schools. Therefore, we are thrilled to have the opportunity through the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation to be part of the solution to closing the achievement gap in our community.”

It is estimated that the BELL Program will serve 4,200 students during a four-year period. The educational component of the program costs approximately $1,430 per student. The Council’s special appropriation of $750,750, which was introduced by Councilmember Navarro and includes all Councilmembers as sponsors, will fund half of the program. Funding from the Rales Foundation and other financial contributions will complete the funding required for more than 1,000 MCPS students to begin the program during the summer of 2016. MCPS and stakeholders will work together on implementation details including which students are selected to participate in the program.

Councilmember Navarro also has requested that County Executive Ike Leggett include matching funds in the Children’s Opportunity Fund for Fiscal Year 2017 to support the second year of the program.

Councilmember Navarro proposed creating a mechanism to ensure a long-term strategic approach and dedicated funding source for early childhood education in 2014. The Council approved funding to begin the Children’s Opportunity Fund in Fiscal Year 2016.

“I am incredibly grateful to Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Josh Rales and the Rales Foundation for their leadership in helping to make this program a reality for our children,” said Board of Education President O’Neill. “This kind of partnership between our schools, the Rales Foundation and the County government will provide our children with support this summer to ensure that learning continues during the summer months.”

There are numerous studies throughout the nation showing the impact that early childhood education and wrap-around support services have on closing the achievement gap for students.

In March, the University of North Carolina’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s released a report titled High-Quality Early Education: Age of Entry and Time in Care Differences in Student Outcomes for English-Only and Dual Language Learners. The report found that “high-quality early education is especially advantageous for children when they start younger and continue longer. Not only does more high-quality early education significantly boost the language skills of children from low-income families, children whose first language is not English benefit even more.”

“When schools and communities work together, we can create and sustain more and better learning opportunities for the children who need them most,” said Lauren Gilbert, vice president of impact and innovation for BELL. “We look forward to expanding access to summer learning in Montgomery County and enabling scholars to strengthen their academic, social, and emotional skills and enter the new school year ready to excel.”

The BELL Program is based on a small group model that uses certified teachers and trained tutors. BELL’s outcome measures have been rigorously tested by the Urban Institute and the program measures student progress utilizing STAR Assessment computer adaptive testing and conducts surveys of parents and teachers.

BELL has a proven track record in the Washington-Baltimore region. In 2006, BELL launched its Baltimore program with 416 students and has grown to serve 1,200. In 2014, BELL formed a partnership with YMCA in the District of Columbia and will serve 240 students this year.

The Nov. 17 press conference will be held in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The event will coincide with the Council’s vote, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, on the appropriation to fund the program. The Council’s action and the ensuing news event will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and will be streamed live via the Council web site at:

For more information on BELL, visit:


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Montgomery County Retains AAA Bond Rating

County Among Best in Nation for Fiscal Responsibility

County Executive Ike Leggett today announced that Montgomery County has maintained its Triple-A bond rating for 2015 from three Wall Street bond rating agencies.

Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s all affirmed the “AAA” rating – the highest achievable — for the County. They all termed the outlook for Montgomery County as “stable.”

The Triple-A bond rating enables Montgomery County to sell long-term bonds at the most favorable rates, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bonds. The rating also serves as a benchmark for numerous other financial transactions, ensuring the lowest possible costs in those areas as well.

“What is remarkable about this is that Montgomery County has continued to receive a Triple-A bond rating from all three bond rating agencies even during these past few years when other jurisdictions – including the federal government – were seeing downgrades and despite federal shutdowns, budget sequestrations and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” said Leggett.

“Our ability to maintain our coveted Triple-A rating affirms my approach to putting the County’s fiscal house in order and reducing unsustainable increases in County spending, while investing in making government more effective and creating opportunities for the growth of good jobs in the future.

“We have significantly boosted our reserves, closed more than $3 billion in budget gaps, made tough choices on spending, and saved millions for taxpayers with changes in County health and retirement benefits. Our unemployment rate is the lowest in the state of Maryland and among the lowest in the nation. Montgomery County has weathered the downturn and the investments we made during the toughest of times are enabling us to create more jobs and opportunity.”

The bond rating agencies underlined the County’s successful approach.

“Montgomery County has a sophisticated management team that uses conservative budgeting and has established debt and reserve policies that have resulted in healthy reserve and liquidity levels,” wrote Fitch. “Montgomery County continues to exhibit a very impressive economic profile.”

“The AAA rating reflects the County’s sizable, strong and diverse tax base, affluent demographics, and manageable debt burden,” said Moody’s Investor’s Services. “The rating also incorporates the county’s healthy reserve position, which has grown in recent years as a result of the implementation of various new fiscal policies and a multi-year plan to restore the county’s financial flexibility.

“Several large projects are underway in the county and will add further to the tax and jobs base over the near and medium term, including a substantial $1.5 billion in building construction in Fiscal Year 2015 alone.”

“The stable outlook reflects our view of Montgomery County’s very strong local economy and its demonstrated resilience to economic pressure due, in large part, to its very strong management conditions,” said Standard & Poor’s.

“The reconfirmation of the County’s AAA rating reflects the strong commitment of the Council and Executive to sound financial management,” said Council President George Leventhal. “The County has held a AAA rating since 1973.  This is an outstanding achievement, but it is what we expect of Montgomery County.  It is further evidence that we have jointly created a government that works effectively for our one million residents.”

“I am pleased Montgomery County has retained its AAA Bond Rating. This accomplishment is due in large part to the County Council and County Executive working collaboratively to put in place responsible fiscal policies,” said Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee chair Nancy Navarro. “During the Great Recession, the Council established a six-year Fiscal Plan, restructured County employee benefits, developed a policy to increase our reserves to 10% by 2020, and took the unprecedented step of re-basing the school system budget. These actions, taken together with approving fiscally responsible budgets and land use plans that promote economic development throughout the County, have set the stage to retain our high credit rating. This bond rating allows us to borrow money at low costs so we can invest in essential infrastructure projects.”

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Councilmember Navarro at Early Voting Press Conference

Improving the Procurement Process

This morning, the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee reviewed the recommendations of the  Procurement Policies and Regulations Task Force and the Minority Owned and Small Business Task Force. In October 2014, I proposed creating these task forces to review and evaluate Montgomery County’s procurement process. One of the complaints I hear from business owners of all sizes is that it is too difficult to do business with the County. People say the process takes too long, there is too much paperwork, and there isn’t enough communication with the Procurement staff.

The reason I supported creating two separate task forces is that the issues raised by business owners about procurement generally fall into two distinct categories. The first category focuses on process. The amount of time it takes to complete a request for proposals (RFP) or not having a formal debrief process after a contract is awarded were issues that could be solved by developing a new process for interacting with bidders. The charge of the Procurement Policies and Regulations Task Force was to holistically review the procurement process and recommend changes that would help businesses compete for contracts in Montgomery County.

The second category of concern raised by business owners was how small, minority, female and disabled-owned businesses can compete for County contracts. The County received a Disparity Study last year that showed minority, female and disabled-owned businesses were “underutilized” in County procurement. Small business owners have expressed a variety of concerns about the way the Local Small Business Reserve Program has been implemented. The Minority Owned and Small Business Task Force was responsible for reviewing programs specifically designed to help small, minority, female and disabled-owned businesses in qualifying for County contracts.

Although we are now receiving these reports, the Council did not wait to begin improving procurement. This past March, the Council unanimously approved Expedited Bill 7-15, which was proposed by the County Executive, to create a standalone Office of Procurement within the Executive Branch. In June, the Council appointed former Councilmember Cherri Branson to lead that new office. During the FY16 Budget process (and reaffirmed during the FY16 Budget Savings Plan), the Council added staff to the compliance section of the Office of Procurement.

You can find links to both Task Force reports here.


Councilmember Nancy Navarro on Bill 32-15, Food Truck Hours

Councilmember Nancy Navarro on Bill 52-14, Pesticide Restrictions

Montgomery County Council to Commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Special Ceremonies and Panel Discussion
in Rockville Will Highlight ‘The Current State of the Latino Community in Montgomery County’

ROCKVILLE, Md., September 25, 2015—The Montgomery County Council at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept, 29, will hold special ceremonies to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. The special event on “The Current State of the Latino Community in Montgomery County” will include a panel discussion with Hispanic and Latino leaders in the County whose work on social justice issues have helped shape the community. There also will be a video presentation featuring Hispanic and Latino residents who will share their life experiences and express their views on issues that will shape the future.

This Hispanic Heritage Month celebration will be part of the County Council session that will take place in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The special ceremonies will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed at:

Among those to share their experiences with Councilmembers during the panel discussion are Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation; Alberto Avendaño, executive editor of El Tiempo Latino; Angela Franco, president and CEO of Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Jonathan Jayes-Green, community activist and former administrator for the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

The event will include a demographic overview of the Hispanic and Latino community in Montgomery County and a panel discussion on shared history, personal contributions and observations on currents issues facing the community.

“The Hispanic/Latino community in our County mirrors the nation,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who initiated this Hispanic Heritage event. “It is a young, hard-working and forward thinking community. Contrary to the negative rhetoric espoused by some, this community continues to make valuable contributions to the fabric of our County and our nation. This month we celebrate our shared heritage and we salute those who make a difference each and every day.”

According to the Montgomery County’s Planning Department, 192,887 County residents self-identify as Hispanic, which represents 18.7 percent of the population. In this group, 61,802 residents are from El Salvador, 15,755 are from Mexico, 12,769 are from Peru, 12,164 are from Guatemala and 9,034 are from Honduras. Of the overall total, 29 percent is under age 5 and approximately 75 percent is younger than age 34. More information can be found by watching: .

“Montgomery County is fortunate to be a magnet for capable and talented people from around the world,” said Council President George Leventhal. “Immigration to this County is a compliment because it indicates that of all the places in the world to choose, this growing, vibrant community wants to make Montgomery County its home. And so we value the contributions of all our residents and the Latino community provides a special flavor to our cultural and economic life.”

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Councilmember Nancy Navarro Schedules Committee Meeting with Montgomery Board of Elections to Discuss Selection Process for Early Voting Sites in County

After Changes to Established Early Voting Sites, Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee Worksession on Oct. 1 Will Address Actions to Encourage Voter Participation

ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 25, 2015—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee, has scheduled a worksession with the County Board of Elections at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, to address steps that can be taken to encourage voter turnout after the board relocated two established early voting sites in Montgomery County.

The GO Committee, which includes Councilmembers Sidney Katz and Hans Riemer, will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room at the Council Office Building in Rockville at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be broadcast live on County Cable Montgomery (Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon) and will be streamed live via the Council web site at: .

On Sept. 21, the County Board of Elections, which became controlled by a Republican majority after the election of Governor Larry Hogan, voted to relocate two popular and heavily utilized early voting sites in Montgomery County. As a result of the 3-2 vote, the early voting sites at the Marilyn Praisner Community Center in Burtonsville and the Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase were eliminated. New early voting sites will be the Longwood Community Recreation Center in Brookeville and the Potomac Community Recreation Center on Falls Road.

Councilmember Navarro said the board’s decisions relocated two easily accessible voting centers in densely populated areas with sites near areas that are sparsely populated and difficult to reach by public transportation.

“We all know that voter turnout is an issue across the nation, and Montgomery County is no exception,” said Councilmember Navarro. “Moving early voting locations away from where people live is only going to discourage participation. Voting is one of the most fundamental civic duties in our democracy. Part of my job is to make sure that our residents have access to polling places in all parts of Montgomery County.”

All early voting sites are open to all voters across the County. Approximately 8,000 voters cast ballots at the Burtonsville and Chevy Chase early voting sites in the 2014 general election. In that election, Burtonsville was the second busiest early voting center in the County, behind the Silver Spring Civic Building.

“In 2013, I garnered unanimous Council support to create the Right to Vote Task Force,” said Councilmember Navarro. “The resolution establishing the Task Force directed the Montgomery County Board of Elections to select early voting sites that are ‘easily accessible by public transportation’ to help ensure that all eligible voters, regardless of income or access to a vehicle, have an opportunity to cast a ballot. The actions by the Board of Elections move us away from this goal. Now, it is time to roll up our sleeves and do everything possible to educate the public about these changes.”

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