The Montgomery County Board of Education Wednesday approved a $2.263 billion operating budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 2011. The budget proposal funds no new initiatives but, as the state's "maintenance of effort" provision requires, maintains the same level of local per-student funding for FY 2011 as the district received for the current school year.
The budget will now be submitted to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, who will issue his FY 2011 budget recommendation to the County Council by March 15.
If the County Council does not approve a budget at the maintenance of effort level, the school system could face a fine as high as $51 million from the state. The county is currently facing a $23 million fine for failure to meet maintenance of effort this fiscal year.
"This budget simply allows us to maintain our current level of service and instruction for our growing student population," said Board of Education President Patricia O'Neill. "We are urging the County Executive and County Council to approve this budget proposal so we can continue to serve our students and continue the progress our students have made."
Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said the budget proposal is built on a foundation that includes cuts totaling more than $200 million in the past two years. The cuts included action by MCPS employees to voluntarily forgo cost of living increases for this year, saving the taxpayers nearly $90 million.
"Our employees have made difficult personal sacrifices, and we have cut millions of dollars from our budget through staff reductions, expenditure controls and efficiencies," Dr. Weast said. "This is a lean budget proposal that simply allows us to keep up with the needs of our growing student population. Anything less than a maintenance of effort budget will jeopardize our ability to continue to serve our students at the high level our citizens have come to expect."
In the past year, student enrollment has grown 2 percent overall, including a 10 percent increase in the number of students receiving free and reduced-price meals and a 6 percent increase in the percentage of students receiving English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services.
The proposed budget calls for an overall 2.8 percent increase over the Fiscal Year 2010 budget. The increase represents funding for increased enrollment and new school expenditures; continuing salary costs and benefits for current employees; and increases in health and life insurance, retirement, social security and other costs for current and retired employees.
Board of Education Resolution