MCPS superintendent reflects on first six months

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 9:09 PM EDT
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Bernard Bragen Jr. began his new role in Dec. 2022. Six months later, he says the honeymoon phase is over.

“We got here in December and tried to hit the ground running and before you knew it, it’s May,” he said.

Over those six months Bragen says he has learned quite a bit about his new school district.

“Our teachers and administrators are second to none,” he said. “Getting to know them on a personal level and professionally has been a lot of fun for me, because not only are they great people, but they’re really committed to the cause.”

There are also a few areas Bragen would like to see MCPS improve over his tenure, including the addition of a new sport.

“I think we can always grow as a school division and try to provide more opportunities to enhance the learning environment for our children,” Bragen said. “One of the things that I’m looking forward to exploring is the whole idea of eSports. Sometimes people think of eSports as purely entertainment and purely something for fun for the children, which it is, but there’s great educational value in that and there’s curriculums that are associated with that.”

One of the biggest challenges Bragen has faced so far is funding.

MCPS requested an additional $6.1 million for its budget from Montgomery County, but didn’t receive the full amount.

“When you’re looking at a reduction in the millions of dollars, it unfortunately means sometimes personnel, but I think our leadership team has been committed to try to make sure those changes and those suggestions do not impact the classroom performance and do not increase our class sizes,” Bragen said.

He says more of the budget’s details will be announced at the next school board meeting, which will be held May 16.