The threat of more significant budget reductions next year -- beyond the $15.6 million already approved by the Board of Education -- is particularly significant for continued efforts to modernize the school system's technology programs and services, which are already slated to undergo more than $1 million in reductions in staff, support, and new initiatives.
Next year's technology cuts already will affect 15 projects of the Office of Global Access Technology (OGAT) that serve both schools and offices. The cuts scale back the next phase of the data warehouse project, application systems training, system security software for intrusion detection, printing services, student and business legacy system improvements, web support, and resources for audiovisual equipment for schools.
The Montgomery County Public Schools is facing a potential shortfall of more than $31 million in next year's budget. More reductions will be announced as the school system continues to work on reducing this significant gap in funding, likely to be made worse by a greater loss of state funding than anticipated for both the operating and capital budgets.
Last week, the school system announced the elimination of nearly $1 million in summer training for school leadership teams on program improvements and planning. This reduction is on top of more than $2 million in other reductions and realignments in professional development and training, including the cut of two instructional specialists and eight consulting teacher positions. In addition, an ongoing freeze on expenditures and hiring begun last October has saved $5.6 million thus far this year.
The technology cuts already slated for next year will impact the system's ability to support the ongoing modernization and improvement of technology for instructional programs, support services, and administration and accountability for the system's 191 schools.
In addition to the technology cuts, more than $1.9 million in realignments within OGAT were made for next year to ensure that high priority technology initiatives continue to be funded, including the information gathering and reporting requirements being addressed for new federal and state education laws, including the No Child Left Behind Act.
Technology use in education is an important instructional and management tool for teachers, principals, and central office staff, as well as a learning tool for students. The school system had envisioned greater progress prior to the onset of the reductions for next year.
The technology cuts were identified as part of the ongoing Program Efficiency, Abandonment, and Redirection (PEAR) process that the school system has implemented to manage the loss of funding systemwide. Other departments and offices have undergone similar PEAR reductions that resulted in identification of the remaining parts of the $15.6 million in budget cuts already approved next year.
Note: A report detailing the impact of the technology reductions is available on the web at the link below.