County Executive Douglas M. Duncan has strongly endorsed the Board of Education's initial operating budget request of nearly $1.6 billion for next year in his recommendations presented this week [Monday, March 15] to the Montgomery County Council.
His recommended budget included nearly all of the Board's request, except for the recent budget amendments of $21 million to fund the tentative contract settlements with employee organizations. Although he supported funding the contracts, the amendments came too late to be included in this phase of the budget process. The contract funding will be presented by the Board to the County Council as part of the overall requested budget.
Duncan was very complimentary of the Board of Education, citing the “excellent cooperation” provided to the Montgomery County Government in preparing the budget recommendations and the steps taken by the Board to ensure that school funding is “well spent.”
In his public presentation of the budget, Duncan noted that independent economists consider the county's economy to be among the strongest in the nation and that an excellent school system is a key factor in maintaining a healthy economy and real estate market.
Even without the requested budget amendment for the tentative contracts, the executive's recommended budget reflected a 5.6 percent increase for the school system, representing 49 percent of the total county expenditures. This compares with 8.1 percent for the County Government (including tentative contract settlements for county employees), 4.3 percent for Montgomery College, and 4.6 percent for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Duncan noted that since Fiscal Year 1995, education spending in Montgomery County has increased by 92 percent.
The recommended budget exceeds the County Council's preliminary spending affordability guideline by $49.4 million, which will require action by the Council.
The County Council will hold public hearings on the county budget in April, and the Council's Education Committee has scheduled its initial worksession on the system's budget on April 27.