June 13, 2013
The Montgomery County Board of Education on Thursday (June 13, 2013) unanimously adopted a $2.23 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 operating budget for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The budget will allow MCPS to keep up with its continued growth, while investing funds to re-energize efforts to narrow the achievement gap and prepare staff and students for the future.
The FY 2014 budget represents a $57.1 million—or 2.6 percent—increase over the current year and is funded at the minimum level required by state law. The Montgomery County Council approved the $2.23 billion budget last month.
“I want to thank the citizens of Montgomery County for their continued commitment to our students. They clearly understand that the future of our county is directly tied to our ability to prepare our students for the workplace of the 21st century,” said Board of Education President Christopher S. Barclay. “This budget will allow us to manage our growth while making strategic investments so we can best serve the needs of our students.”
“I appreciate the commitment and collaboration of our county and state leaders and I look forward to our continued work together,” Mr. Barclay said.
The budget includes $1.45 billion in local funding and $605 million in state funding. The remainder of the revenue comes from federal funding ($72.7 million) and other funding sources.
“A budget is a reflection of a community’s values and it is clear that Montgomery County and the state of Maryland place a high value on public education,” said Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr. “In turn, we have been good stewards of taxpayer dollars and have earned a strong return on the investment made in our students and staff.”
Among the indicators of that strong return on investment are:
- MCPS students took nearly 33,000 Advanced Placement exams in 2012 and 75 percent of those exams earned a college-ready score
- MCPS graduates earned an average combined score of 1651 on the SAT, which is 184 points higher than that of Maryland public school graduates and 153 points higher than the nation’s graduates
- The Class of 2013 has earned more than $288 million in college scholarships and has 126 National Merit Scholarship finalists and more than 180 Ivy League college acceptances
“Our students are performing at a very high level and we should take great pride in the tremendous work being done across the district,” Dr. Starr said. “But we also know there is much work left to be done to narrow some of our persistent achievement gaps and prepare our staff and students for different, higher expectations in the 21st century. This budget will allow us to continue that work.”
Building the Budget
In December, Dr. Starr submitted to the Board his initial budget recommendation, which was created in collaboration with the three MCPS employee associations—the Montgomery County Education Association, the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals, and the Service Employees International Union, Local 500—as well as representatives from the Montgomery County Council of PTAs.
The Board held two public hearings at which parents, students, staff and community members gave feedback on the superintendent’s proposal. The Board also held two work sessions on the budget and asked more than 75 specific questions about the budget and MCPS operations. The Board approved a $2.23 billion budget request in February.
“I want to thank our unions and parent leaders for their partnership and hard work in building a budget that meets the needs of our growing district,” Mr. Barclay said. “The collaboration between MCPS, its employees, and parents is a model for the nation and has allowed our district to maintain its excellence even in difficult economic times.”
Last month, the Montgomery County Council approved the Board’s requested budget with one change. The Board had requested that the Council fund MCPS at $10 million above the minimum funding floor required by state law—called “maintenance of effort.” Instead, the Council approved allowing the district to use an additional $10 million from its fund balance.
The majority of the increase in the budget will go toward managing the district’s continued growth. Enrollment in MCPS is nearly 149,000 students this year, an increase of more than 11,000 students in just five years. This growth is expected to continue and enrollment is projected to top 159,000 students by FY 2019.
At the same time, more students require services and support to be successful. More than 49,300 MCPS students (33.1 percent) receive free and reduced-price meals, an increase of more than 12,000 students in five years. Also, nearly 20,000 students receive English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services.
The FY 2014 budget provides $20.8 million to address enrollment changes, including 127 elementary and secondary positions to serve an additional 2,336 students, 22 positions to serve an additional 900 ESOL students, and 101 positions to increase individualized services for special education students.
The budget includes $18.6 million for employee compensation increases. Eligible MCPS employees will receive a step or longevity increase, effective February 8, 2014. Employees who are not eligible for a step or longevity increase will receive a 2 percent salary increase, effective February 8, 2014.
Narrowing the Achievement Gap
MCPS has had success in narrowing the achievement gap in several areas, including AP participation and performance, graduation rates, and early grades reading. But in other areas, the gaps have been persistent and, in some cases, have grown. This budget invests resources in strategic areas to deepen the district’s efforts to narrow the achievement gaps, especially in key areas.
Some of the largest gaps in MCPS are in middle schools, so the budget includes $1.97 million to hire 30 middle school focus teachers who will work with students struggling in mathematics and reading. The budget also funds 22.8 positions to restore middle school staff development positions to full-time status ($1.5 million). These positions provide vital training and support to middle school teachers. The budget also realigns about $1.1 million to create a Mathematics Implementation Team that will work with schools to improve the capacity of teachers to serve students and invests $655,934 to fund 10 new elementary school teacher positions that will provide accelerated math instruction to students who are ready for advanced work.
Investing in the Future
There are many changes occurring now and in the future in education. These include the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and literacy, the continued roll out of Curriculum 2.0, and preparing our students for new state assessments and changes in AP and SAT exams.
The Board’s budget includes $3.6 million in professional development resources for the expanded implementation of Curriculum 2.0 and the Common Core State Standards. Other strategic restorations and enhancements include four additional consulting teachers to work with new educators and those who are struggling ($314,854).
Other Enhancements and Restorations
The budget also includes additional enhancements, some of which restore positions that were lost during the economic downturn of the past few years. These additional enhancements and restorations include:
- The addition of 5 school psychologist positions ($341,028) to help lower caseloads
- Restoration of 2 counselor positions that were cut at smaller elementary schools in recent years ($147,170)
- An additional 8 maintenance worker positions to account for a 12 percent growth in the amount of space needing to be maintained ($433,265)
- The implementation of the IB Middle Years Programme at Martin Luther King and Roberto W. Clemente middle schools ($234,986, which includes funds for 1.6 coordinator positions)
- The addition of 6.2 high school teachers to reduce math and English class sizes at Watkins Mill, Springbrook and Gaithersburg high schools ($406,677)
- An additional 5 special education paraeducator positions ($197,413)
- Additional funds to expand school-based programs that support narrowing of the achievement gap ($100,000)
MCPS Budget Website