Superintendent McKnight visits WJ


Photo by Seyun Park

Superintendent Monifa McKnight and Principal Jennifer Baker pose for a photo outside of the college and career center. McKnight visited WJ friday to talk about AP and IB classes. One of McKnight’s budget proposals is to eliminate all fees for taking AP and IB exams.

Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent of schools Monifa McKnight visited WJ on Friday, Jan 6, to discuss her upcoming budget and proposals about college and AP classes.
McKnight’s 3.15 billion dollar budget proposal for the 2024 fiscal year includes 119 million dollars for competitive salaries and hiring, a new school bus tracking app, expanded PreK programs and an expanded college advising program among other spending proposals. Another highlight of McKnight’s proposal is removing all costs for IB and AP exams, a measure that would cost the county around 3.4 million dollars.
Currently, each AP exam costs $97, and carries a $40 cancellation fee, while IB exams cost $70.
McKnight visited multiple AP classes at WJ to learn about what students did in the classroom and what they were learning about while seeing the impact of AP courses.
“I wanted to engage in conversation with them to find out, you know, how meaningful that accelerator, that investment is… and how important these AP classes are to them. How does it prepare them for the future?” McKnight said.
One of the classes McKnight visited was senior Fiona Mesfin’s AP Biology class.
“We were doing labs as groups … and she (McKnight) went around the groups’ tables guided by our AP bio teacher,” Mesfin said. “It was cool to hear and see that the superintendent was coming to our school and especially that she wanted to visit the AP classes and dual enrollment programs. It shows the dedication and effort the country is putting in seeing how those programs are going and how those classes are implemented.”
While talking with students McKnight noted what students thought was more important for succeeding in AP classes.
“Students here at WJ have told me that the things that help them be successful in AP classes … are to provide places that build community for them, where they can feel comfortable asking questions, taking risks and being in a diverse environment,” McKnight said.
The Board of Education will host public hearings about the budget on Jan 11th and Jan 17th at 6 pm both in person and online where members of the public can comment on the proposed budget.
“It’s changes like these that break down barriers of inequality. I hope we see measures like these taken nationwide. Especially for the less privileged students of MCPS, this is absolutely huge in promoting access to higher, college-level courses,” sophomore Brady MacBride said.
McKnight also visited the leadership class, where she learned about the class’s fundraising for Pennies for Patients in February.
“Having Dr. McKnight in leadership was a great experience, it was good to know that she cared about WJ and wanted to know what the leadership class was working on … she was shocked when Mrs. Baker told her that we raised over 85,000 dollars in the past,” sophomore class secretary Candice Nsoga-Mahob said.