The Montgomery County Board of Education on Tuesday approved a final operating budget for Fiscal Year 2011, which includes nearly $160 million in budget cuts.
The $2.1 billion FY 2011 budget is 4.4 percent lower than the current year’s spending plan, even though enrollment grew by 2,800 students and is expected to increase again next year. To meet the budget reductions, the Board of Education approved a list of cuts that includes the elimination of more than 450 positions, increased class sizes, and significant reductions to operations and administration.
“We are not enthusiastic about passing a budget that includes such difficult cuts, but the current economy has provided us with no other options,” said Board of Education President Patricia B. O’Neill. “While we have had to make some very hard decisions, we believe this is a fiscally responsible budget that will allow our teachers and staff to continue to offer a world-class education to all of our students.”
Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast pointed out that the district’s 22,000 employees have agreed to forgo any salary increases this year. Over the past two years, Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) employees have agreed to forgo more than $120 million in salary increases—$89 million in FY 2010 and another $26 million in FY 2011.
“MCPS is experiencing perhaps its greatest period of academic growth and that is, in great part, due to the outstanding work of our staff,” Dr. Weast said. “It is not easy to ask our staff to continue to make these sacrifices when they are doing their jobs so well, but they have stepped up and kept what is best for the students first in their minds. I am grateful for their efforts and their support of MCPS.”
On May 27, the Montgomery County Council passed a final budget that includes $1.41 billion in local funds for education—a reduction of more than 7 percent from this fiscal year. Overall, the MCPS budget for FY 2011 is $159.1 million lower than what was requested by the Board of Education in February.
To meet these budget reductions, the Board of Education approved several cost-saving measures, including an increase in class sizes by an average of one student per class and an across-the-board salary freeze. Among the other cost saving measures approved Tuesday are:
· The elimination of more than 450 positions, including elementary school paraeducators, reading teachers, staff development teachers, media assistants, speech pathologists, therapists and others.
· A 30 percent cut in funds for textbooks and instructional materials.
· The elimination of allocations for activity buses and sponsor stipends for elementary school extracurricular programs.
· Dramatic reductions to funds available for substitute teachers, including the elimination of all funds for substitutes for teachers who are engaged in staff development.
· A $6.5 million cut to central office, including the elimination of 51 positions. Central office expenditures have been reduced by nearly 20 percent over the past three years.
Dr. Weast said he was hopeful that nearly all of the employees displaced by the elimination of positions would find jobs elsewhere in the school system that have been opened due to retirements or resignations. However, he said, the school system Office of Human Resources and Development and employee associations would work closely with any employees who are unable to find positions within MCPS. At this time, it is expected that 20-25 employees will face a reduction in force.
See the Board Resolution and list of budget reductions: