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Superintendent Recommends $2.1 Billion Budget

December 13, 2007
Superintendent Recommends $2.1 Billion FY 2009 Operating Budget

Budget Focuses on Continued Investment in Staff and Successful Initiatives

Superintendent Jerry D. Weast recommended a $2.1 billion Fiscal Year 2009 Operating Budget to the Board of Education and the community on Thursday, December 13. The recommendation includes approximately $10.2 million in initiatives to improve student achievement, which is being funded by more than $10 million in budget reductions.

The budget also funds a 5 percent negotiated salary increase for nearly 22,000 employees, maintains current services for 138,000 students, and covers enrollment changes and inflation-related cost increases.

The initiatives include middle school reform, improvements in special education, expansion of successful programs, and staffing support to schools.

“This budget builds on the comprehensive reforms the Board of Education initiated eight years ago. At the heart of our reforms is our people and this budget invests in our exceptional workforce that every day delivers outstanding results for our students,” said Weast.

The recommended budget constitutes an increase of only 5.6 percent ($110 million) over the FY 2008 budget. This is less than the eight-year average of 7.6 percent. The 5.6 percent increase is the lowest percentage increase since FY 1997. An additional $16 million is being requested to fund future retiree health benefits. The total budget increase would be 6.4 percent with this mandated investment included.

Nearly 80 percent of every dollar in the operating budget is allocated for instructional services, with only 2 percent spent on central administrative costs—among the lowest in Maryland. Zero-based budgeting has saved taxpayers $75 million since 2001, including savings and reductions of $10.6 million in this year’s budget.

“We are mindful of the difficult fiscal environment confronting our community and are adapting our budget accordingly,” said Weast. “We continue to take steps to spend in the most efficient manner while addressing the need to maintain the highest standards of teaching and learning.”

Community Participation

Development of the operating budget was carried out in full partnership with the employee associations representing teachers (MCEA), support professionals (SEIU Local 500), and administrators (MCAASP), and for the first time with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. These organizations, along with the feedback provided by community members who participated in two community forums in the fall, played critical roles in identifying budget priorities, cost savings, and initiatives to improve student achievement.

“Our partners were with us every step of the way as we developed this comprehensive budget that moves us forward in a responsible way,” said Weast. “The community identified numerous priorities such as the need to continue middle school reform, add more elementary counselors and add more parent community coordinators. All of those priorities are included in this budget.”

Budget Highlights

Highlights of the budget include:

$5 million to expand Middle School Reform to an additional nine schools, develop 21 innovative courses in other middle schools, and continue the academic program at the Middle School Magnet Consortium of Argyle, Parkland, and Loiederman middle schools.

$1.5 million to support improvements to special education by expanding the hours-based staffing model to three additional middle schools for a total of 16 middle schools and increase elementary staff to assist special education students in general education classes.

$3.5 million to:
Provide assistance for schools through the addition of counselors, elementary assistant principals, and parent-community coordinators.
Expand the Poolesville High School magnet program to11th grade.
Add the International Baccalaureate Program at Kennedy and Seneca Valley high schools.
Expand the program to help ESOL high school students with interrupted education.
Add lunch hour aides to improve elementary playground supervision.
Expand a successful program to reduce student disciplinary issues.
Reduce class size at three schools significantly impacted by poverty.

Continuing the Record of Success

The recommended budget will help continue initiatives begun eight years ago to raise the bar and close the gap. Previous investments in student success have produced outstanding results:

In elementary school, 93 percent of kindergartners can read simple text, compared with 39 percent six years ago.
Nearly 5,000 fifth graders—48 percent—are taking sixth grade math or higher this year, compared with just 2 percent in 2001.
56 percent of last year’s eighth graders successfully completed Algebra I or higher, compared with 43 percent in 2001.
About 68 percent of eighth graders are taking algebra, compared with 36 percent in 1999. The national average is 42 percent.
In four years, the number of Advanced Placement (AP) scholars has increased 15-fold—from 20 to nearly 300, and 72 percent of all high school students are enrolled in at least one Honors or AP course. MCPS students significantly outperform the state and the nation on AP tests.
African American students in MCPS passed more AP tests than in any other system in the country except for New York City, which has nine times more African American students than MCPS.

Budget Process Highlights

Operating Budget Presentation
On TV—Superintendent Jerry D. Weast’s presentation of the FY 2009 Operating Budget will be broadcast on MCPS Cable Channel 34.
December: Tues. and Thurs., 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., 7 and 11 p.m.
January: Tues. and Thurs., 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m., 9 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., 7 and 11 p.m.
On the web—
Operating budget hearings and worksessions are webcast live on a link from the main MCPS web page, www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org.
Information on the budget is available at www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/budget/ .

FY 2009 Operating Budget timeline
Board of Education operating budget hearings: Jan. 9 and 16, 2008, 7 p.m.
Board operating budget worksessions: Jan. 23 and 24, 7:30 p.m.
Board operating budget action:/adoption: Feb. 5, 10 a.m.
Operating  budget request presented to county executive and County Council: March 1
County executive issues operating budget: March 15
County Council operating budget hearings: April–May
Council approves operating budget: May 22
Board of Education takes final action on operating budget: June 10

The public hearings on the FY 2009 Operating Budget will be held on Jan. 9 and 16 at 7 p.m. in the Carver Educational Services Center (CESC) auditorium. Individuals who wish to speak should call the Board at 301-279-3617 beginning on December 20. Public work sessions will be held on Jan. 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the CESC Board room.

For more information on the operating budget, visit the link below.

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