New Upcounty Magnet Program, More Full-Day Kindergarten Included
$117 Million Added to Capital Budget to Keep Projects on Schedule
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan announced Monday that he has included full funding for the Board of Education’s $1.8 billion Fiscal Year 2007 operating budget in his county budget for next year. In addition, Mr. Duncan announced an additional $117 million in funding to keep school construction projects slated for 2007 and 2008 on schedule.
Last month, the Board of Education approved its FY 2007 operating budget as part of its multiyear plan to improve student achievement for all Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students. The budget includes new resources to improve special education; strengthen middle and high schools; expand International Baccalaureate and gifted programs, including a new magnet program at Poolesville High School; increase foreign language translation services; and complete the expansion of full-day kindergarten to all elementary schools.
“Our students and staff have had the resources they needed to thrive because the Board of Education, County Executive Duncan, and the County Council have all worked closely together with a common purpose. I am delighted that the County Executive is once again giving us the funding we need to help our students achieve great success in the classroom,” said Dr. Charles Haughey, president of the Board of Education.
“One of the key reasons our schools are among the most respected in the nation is because leaders like Doug Duncan and the County Council have wisely invested the county’s resources in the Board of Education’s plans to create a world-class school system,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “Mr. Duncan and the Council have been with us every step of the way to lower class size, invest in a high-quality workforce, and increase academic achievement for all students.”
Dr. Weast also commended County Executive Duncan for identifying $117 million in additional funding to keep school construction plans in 2007 and 2008 on schedule. The additional funding should avert any potential delays in construction that had been identified in January.
“We’ve worked well together over the last six years to give our staff and students the tools and the schools they need to succeed. It’s fantastic that we will be able to continue moving forward with our reform efforts and that we will be able to keep our construction plans on track,” added Weast.
Investments Yield Results
Previous investments in MCPS have yielded exceptional results for students. For example, MCPS seniors surpassed 1100 on the SAT for the second year in a row last year—something no other school system in Maryland has done. Newsweek magazine ranked all 23 eligible high schools in the top
3 percent in the nation. More students than ever before are taking and succeeding in Advanced Placement and Honors courses in high school; 54 percent of the Class of 2005 took at least one AP exam and 44 percent scored well enough to earn college credit—triple the national average and double the Maryland average.
MCPS students continue to exceed expectations at the elementary level, as well. Fourth graders excelled on the Maryland School Assessment last year, scoring higher than any other class. This year, a record 3,800 fifth graders are taking accelerated math courses.
“Our budget puts the resources where they are most needed to improve student achievement, investing more in full-day kindergarten, strengthening our middle school programs, and providing greater assistance for struggling high school students,” said Haughey. “We are targeting our investments and believe they will produce the kind of outstanding results we have been seeing for the last six years. It’s clear that when you invest wisely, results will follow.”
Funding for Improvements
Poolesville High School will open a new magnet program in the fall of 2006 to serve upcounty students. The rigorous magnet program will be available to all students in the school. The program’s curriculum is still being developed, but will include elements of the Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Program and the Communication Arts Program at Montgomery Blair High School, as well as the Global Ecology Studies Program currently at Poolesville.
The Board accelerated the expansion of full-day kindergarten to the 13 final schools that were slated to receive full-day kindergarten in FY 2008, bringing the total number of schools receiving full-day kindergarten next year to 30. The budget includes four ESOL parent community coordinator positions and a new position to review and evaluate the effectiveness of Board of Education policies.
The budget also includes about $300,000 to fund 5.6 new positions to serve the growing number of students who do not speak English as their first language. Revised enrollment projections show that MCPS expects the ESOL enrollment to grow by an additional 270 students compared to earlier estimates.
Specifically, the FY 2007 budget includes an increase of $124 million (7.3 percent) over the FY 2006 budget, for a total of $1.8 billion. As in past years, the vast majority of the budget (89 percent) pays for MCPS personnel. Administrative costs remain low, at 2 percent, as more dollars are directed to the classroom. In fact, MCPS spends nearly 65 cents of every tax dollar on classroom instruction.
Specifically, the $124 million increase for FY 2007 would provide:
• $17 million in improvement initiatives
o Expand full-day kindergarten to 30 more schools for a total of 123 schools
o Strengthen special education in middle and high schools. That includes reducing the size of general education classes with special education students
o Lower high school class sizes in core subject areas
o Increase supports at high school to strengthen literacy, improve performance on High School Assessments, and boost the number of students eligible for extracurricular activities
o Add 15 elementary assistant principals
o Support middle school reform
o Expand IB and gifted programs, including a new magnet program at Poolesville HS
o Increase foreign language translation services
o Enhance violence prevention programs
o Expand program to improve student safety on buses—Ride by the Rules
o Add four new ESOL parent community coordinators
o Expand Study Circles program to encourage parent involvement
o Improve technology supports for instruction
o Increase evaluation of Board of Education policies
o Add more support staff—building services workers and teacher aides
• $18 million for new schools and growth in special education and ESOL programs
• $75 million for employee salaries and benefits, as well as benefits for retirees
• $14 million for utilities, transportation, inflation, and other costs
The FY 2007 budget will require a smaller increase in resources from Montgomery County taxpayers due to an increase in state funding. The Montgomery County share of the FY 2007 budget increase totals $86 million.
MCPS is scheduled to receive $32.8 million in additional state funding in FY 2007. The increased state funding is a result of the Thornton Commission changes in state education funding. MCPS no longer expects to receive $17 million in added state aid from funding for the Geographic Cost of Education Index.
Mr. Duncan’s full FY 2007 Operating Budget will now go to the County Council, which will consider it this spring. Final action on the budget by the Council will occur in mid-May.