Budget Maintains Employee Wage Increases; Keeps Middle School Reform; and Minimizes Impact to Classrooms by Shrinking Central Office
ROCKVILLE, MD – Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will have to reduce its $2.1 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2009 by approximately $27 million to comply with the final budget actions taken today by the Montgomery County Council. Superintendent Jerry D. Weast will be making recommendations for the Board of Education to consider at its June 10, 2008, meeting where the Board will take final action on next year’s budget.
“I expect these reductions will be painful, but we will do everything we can to minimize the impact on classrooms,” said Weast. “This budget allows us to keep our commitment to wage increases for our outstanding employees while giving us a workable plan to expand several important initiatives to keep our reforms moving forward.”
Overall, the MCPS operating budget for FY 2009 will increase by $81 million, an increase of 4.1 percent. The share of the budget increase paid for by local taxpayers is $75 million.
“The good news is that this budget enables us to maintain our strategic investment in our employees who work so hard every day to provide all of our children with a quality education,” said Board of Education President Nancy Navarro. “In light of the cuts that must be made, we will work closely with the superintendent to ensure that the Board’s priorities are met so that we can continue our progress in closing the achievement gap and increasing achievement for all students.”
The superintendent plans to recommend that the Board of Education keep $5.4 million of the original $10.2 million in spending initiatives adopted by the Board in February. These $5.4 million in proposed initiatives include providing funding for the Middle School Magnet Consortium of Argyle, Parkland and Loiederman middle schools; expanding middle school reform; adding hours-based special education staffing to three additional schools; adding International Baccalaureate programs at Kennedy and Seneca Valley high schools; and expanding a program to help ESOL high school students with interrupted education.
The overall cuts by the Council totaled about $41 million, with $14 million of this amount slated to be contributed to the retiree health trust fund. However, MCPS will not have to make this $14 million contribution because the Council stretched out the payments to this fund over eight years instead of five and because of health care savings achieved by MCPS.
As for the remaining $27 million in cuts, $7 million will come from the elimination of some central office positions and efficiencies, $1.2 million from the closure of the Mark Twain special education program, $4.8 million in postponed initiatives and $14.3 million in other school-based cuts. The school-based cuts will come from the elimination of 156 positions, most of which are vacant, and a reduction in operating costs.
The total number of positions in the FY 2009 Operating Budget will be about 66 positions less than the number of positions in the current FY 2008 budget if the actions recommended by the superintendent are adopted. Of this net reduction of 66 positions, 54 will be eliminated from central services and 12 positions will come from school-based operations. The Board’s FY 2009 Operating Budget requested an additional 181.6 positions, including 105.2 positions for budget initiatives.