The Maryland State Board of Education on Tuesday passed a waiver of the state’s “maintenance of effort” provision, meaning Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will not face a penalty of up to $51.3 million in Fiscal Year 2011.
The waiver was necessary because Montgomery County is funding education at a lower per-student level in FY 2011 than it did this year (FY 2010).
On Thursday, the Montgomery County Council is expected to pass a budget that reduces the local contribution to education by more than 7 percent, despite a student enrollment increase of about 2,800 children.
Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill and MCPS Superintendent Jerry D. Weast joined County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Council President Nancy Floreen in Baltimore Tuesday morning to ask the State Board of Education for the waiver. The State Board had until mid-June to rule on the waiver request, but took a vote Tuesday afternoon and approved the request in a 7-5 vote.
“We are very pleased that a majority of the State Board of Education recognized the seriousness of the economic situation before us and granted this waiver,” Mrs. O’Neill said. “The county and the school system have worked collaboratively to address the fiscal needs of the county while protecting the world-class education we are providing our students.”
Dr. Weast said he is very pleased for the students and staff of MCPS.
“MCPS is already taking a dramatic cut to its operating budget next year, and an additional $51 million penalty would have had a devastating impact on our school system,” Dr. Weast said. “We still have some very difficult decisions to make, but we can breathe a little easier now that we don’t have the possibility of a state fine hanging over our heads.”
The Montgomery County Council last week tentatively passed a $2.1 billion operating budget for MCPS in Fiscal Year 2011. The budget is about $138 million below the “maintenance of effort” level, or about $1000 less per student.