I am pleased to submit for your consideration my Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Operating Budget
recommendation for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). I am recommending
an FY 2018 Operating Budget of $2,519,848,012, which will help to build the foundation
and structure that is needed to ensure that all MCPS students are ready to graduate from high
school and are prepared to be successful in college and careers.
My recommendation includes an increase of $62,374,251 and 95.478 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) positions to fund the same level of services for a growing number of students, rising costs in operations, and strategic accelerators. Part of this increase is offset by savings of $24,678,901 generated by program efficiencies and reductions. This additional, $62,374,251 represents a 2.5 percent increase in the operating budget compared to FY 2017.
In addition, this budget assumes that the Montgomery County Council will continue to fund
$27,200,000 from the county’s Consolidated Other Post-employment Benefits Trust Fund to cover a portion of our retiree health benefits costs.
As we begin our discussions on the FY 2018 Operating Budget, it should be noted that our community continues to receive a strong return on the investment it makes in our students. For instance, consider the recent performance of the MCPS students:
- In the 2015–2016 school year, a total of 17,569 MCPS students took at least one Advanced Placement exam with 75.8 percent earning a college-ready score of 3.0 or higher;
- The Class of 2016 earned a 1631 average combined SAT score, surpassing both the national and state averages; and
- Our students in the Class of 2016 earned $343 million in college scholarships.
While MCPS has had a long history of high achievement for many students, not all students have been successful. There are groups of students who have not had the learning opportunities or reached learning levels that have prepared them to be successful in college, career, and community. These learning disparities fall most heavily on Black/African American students, Hispanic/Latino students, and students impacted by poverty. As the student population continues to grow, MCPS’ capacity to ensure the success of these children will define its success. We must act now to create a school system where academic success is not predictable by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language or disability. Our commitment to equity in no way lessens our commitment to excellence. Our commitment is to raise to excellence those students who have not yet achieved at their highest potential.
The driving factor in preparing the FY 2018 Operating Budget is both maintaining successful practices that have led to strong student achievement in past years and investing in new strategies to ensure that all students are able to achieve at higher levels. The FY 2018 Operating Budget builds on the additional funding received in FY 2017 to reduce class sizes in many classrooms across the district and accelerate efforts to close the achievement gap. Ensuring opportunities and success for all students demand focused attention. While the differences that mark student achievement will not be eliminated in one year, this budget defines a clear path to improved achievement for all and instills confidence that MCPS will fulfill its core purpose of “preparing all students to thrive in their future.”
The following table reflects the revenue and expenditure details of my FY 2018 Recommended
Operating Budget compared to FY 2016 and current FY 2017 budgets.
Fiscal Year 2018 will be the ninth consecutive year that our enrollment has increased by at least
2,000 students, and the trend is expected to continue. While most of the student enrollment growth during the past several years has occurred in elementary schools, currently we are experiencing dramatic increases in secondary school enrollment – a trend expected to continue in the coming years as elementary students articulate to middle and high schools. By the 2022–2023 school year, enrollment is expected to reach 168,480 students, an increase of nearly 9,000 students from the current fiscal year.
In order to manage our expected student enrollment growth, my budget recommendation adds more than 226 FTE positions, including 120.0 general elementary/secondary FTE positions,
64.8 FTE positions for special education services, and 29.9 FTE positions to serve our growing population of students who receive English for Speakers of Other Languages services. We also need 12.4 FTE positions to open the new Bethesda/Chevy Chase #2 Middle School as well as 9.7 FTE positions to add Grade 8 to Hallie Wells Middle School for the 2017–2018 school year. Finally, we need 35.5 FTE positions in school support operations for transportation, school plant operations, and food services for the additional students and facilities expected next fiscal year.
This budget recommendation includes $10,207,815 in strategic accelerators, including
22.0 FTE positions. These resources help intensify efforts to close the persistent opportunity gaps and improve academic excellence for all. The strategic accelerators are grouped by the five strategic priorities that were outlined in fall 2016.
To support the core or principal strategy of improving teaching and learning, an additional
$3,561,854 and 13.5 FTE positions are included. Within this total, $1,193,652 will be used to increase opportunities and improve achievement for students including implementation of a diploma program for students who need an alternative path for graduation, increasing access to Career Technology Education programs and implementation of apprenticeship programs. In addition, $457,311 will be used to enhance achievement focused co-curricular programs to all middle schools to increase outcomes and opportunities for students. In addition to new dollars, realigned dollars will support these efforts including the realignment of a supervisor position to provide coordination of efforts. A total of $1,037,103 and 12.5 FTE positions will expand the home school model to the remaining elementary schools. To ensure effective mathematics instruction, an increase of $500,000 is needed to provide professional development, instructional materials, focused support, and approaches to scheduling students in elementary and middle schools. Funding of $150,000 will be used to add six additional equal opportunity schools, as part of a nationwide initiative, to increase students’ access to advanced academic courses, and $192,689 to implement two-way immersion programs at elementary schools and plan for middle school options.
For the focus on learning, accountability, and results, a total of $2,475,772 and 2.0 FTE positions are included. Within this total, $1,271,022 and 2.0 FTE positions are to implement a systemwide data system for all schools to better measure student performance as we work to prepare all students for success in college, career, and life. Funding of $654,750 will allow MCPS to implement an online Individualized Education Program (IEP)/Section 504 system that will allow us to better analyze IEP data and access tools to support students with disabilities in early childhood as well as secondary transitions. A total of $450,000 is included to ensure that any Grade 11 student interested in taking the SAT or ACT exam will be able to do so. In addition,
$85,000 is needed to implement an online high school planner for college and career readiness for all Grades 8‒9 students and expanded to additional grades in the 2018–2019 school year.
An additional, $1,266,032 and 1.5 FTE positions will support our focus on human capital. This includes $100,000 to provide training for teachers on effective strategies, content knowledge, and cultural competency. To build out our human resources system for schools, we are including
$575,000 in this year’s budget. Also, $422,135 is included to develop pathways for supporting services staff who desire to become teachers as we continue to build our workforce with highly effective committed educators. Finally, $168,897 and 1.5 FTE positions will be used to intensify our equity recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts.
For our focus on community engagement and partnerships, an additional $1,246,703 and 2.0 FTE positions are included. Within this total, $734,959 and 1.0 position will be used to improve support to families through improved communication and increased materials for parents to help children succeed in schools. In addition, $149,744 and 1.0 position will be used to create an East County arts elementary program that imbeds additional music into the learning experience for students. To expand the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success to five additional schools, an increase of $147,000 is included. Funding of $120,000 will be used to create community and business partnership to establish summer work programs for Montgomery County high school teenagers and to enhance existing partnerships focused on tutoring and instruction;
$95,000 to expand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses and extracurricular programs to increase the number of underrepresented students in STEM fields; and an additional $45,000 will be added to the budget to support our Interages partnerships.
An increase of $1,657,454 and 3.0 FTE positions are included for our focus on operational excellence. To improve business systems that are either obsolete or cumbersome in order to create effective and efficient business operations, an increase of $1,007,416 and 1.0 position is included. A total of $503,000 is included to streamline the school registration process through an online system that will create efficiencies and reduce errors. Finally, $147,038 and 2.0 FTE positions are added to improve our security operations.
Program Efficiencies, Reductions, and Realignments
While this operating budget realigns and accelerates funding in important areas to improve teaching and learning for all students, program efficiencies and reductions totaling
$24,678,901 and 196.29 FTE positions also are included. This includes reductions of $4,780,088 and 37.750 FTE positions from central services. Major program reductions include
$6,216,923 and the elimination of 91.550 FTE instructional data analyst positions. Other program reductions include $2,475,915 and 35.5 FTE for reading initiative teacher positions and $460,311 and 6.6 FTE for literacy coach positions. Some special program teacher positions also are being eliminated totaling $362,669 and 5.2 FTE positions. Also, there is a reduction of $694,446 and 9.0 FTE positions in Alternative Programs. Reductions in Special Education programs total $767,494 and 10.475 FTE positions mostly for teacher and paraeducator positions.
There are funding reductions of $2,153,000 in professional development stipends, $2,000,000 in instructional materials, $575,902 in the career lattice program, and $800,000 in tuition reimbursement. With the elimination of the regional summer school at the elementary school level, a total of $336,194 will be saved. It is important to note this does not impact our summer program at individual schools or our Building Educated Leaders for Life partnership program. Other major reductions include reductions in substitutes, stipends, furniture, and travel.
In order to reduce the overall budget, the increase typically included for inflation related to rising costs for textbooks and instructional materials totaling $483,590 for FY 2018 will be absorbed. Based on actual expenses in recent years, expenditures for the purchase of bus tires and parts can be reduced by $625,000. Finally, the utility budget can be reduced by $1,100,000 due to price and consumption reductions and efficiencies. While these and other smaller reductions are both difficult and painful, given the other funding requirements in this budget, coupled with our commitment to excellence for all our students, they must be included in this recommended budget.
There are a number of budget-neutral realignments in the Recommended FY 2018 Operating Budget. Major realignments include the Department of Instructional Leadership being realigned from the Office of School Support and Improvement to the Office of the Chief Academic Officer for the purpose of consolidating professional leadership efforts in the district. Another realignment involves the establishment of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer where budget and finance-related functions are consolidated for the school district.
The three-year agreements that the Board of Education ratified on March 11, 2014, will expire at the end of FY 2017. Negotiations began in October 2016 and are continuing at this time with our three employee associations on new contracts to be effective July 1, 2017. While the final terms of these contracts have not yet been agreed upon, in order to plan for the requirements of the FY 2018 Operating Budget, a total of $55,000,000 has been included to support the negotiated agreements once they are finalized. By the time that the Board approves its budget on February 14, 2017, more details on these contracts should be available.
A Budget Developed in Collaboration with our Partners
My recommended FY 2018 Operating Budget was developed in partnership with our employees and parents/guardians. I want to thank the leadership of the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals, the Montgomery County Education Association, and the Service Employees International Union Local 500 for their collaboration and commitment during the development of this budget. I also am grateful to the leaders of the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations, Inc., and representatives of the African American Student Achievement Action Group and the Latino Student Achievement Action Group, who also were involved in the development of this budget recommendation. Finally, I am appreciative for the dedication and cooperation of our executive leadership team and other MCPS staff in the development of this operating budget recommendation.
This budget has been developed with the important goal of improving outcomes and opportunities for each and every student that attends MCPS. I look forward to working with the Board of Education on my recommended FY 2018 Operating Budget. This budget reflects our core values of learning, relationships, respect, excellence, and equity. It reflects our commitment to continue the investment in all our children so that they may complete their MCPS education ready to be successful in college, career, and community.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools