Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today recommended full funding for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) operating budget in Fiscal Year 2013. Montgomery County Board of Education President Shirley Brandman released the following statement on the County Executive's recommendation:
We appreciate County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommendation to fully fund our Fiscal Year 2013 operating budget request for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The County Executive clearly understands that maintaining a great school system is a crucial part of attracting and retaining business to our county and securing our community’s future as a great place to live and work. We are grateful for Mr. Leggett’s continued support of MCPS, its students and staff.
The Board of Education submitted a fiscally responsible, “maintenance of effort” budget that asks the county to fund education at the same per-student level as this year, but for a growing number of students. It is the lowest requested percentage increase in our budget in a decade. We are mindful of the fiscal strain our county is facing so we are not asking for all that we truly need to meet the ever-increasing challenges before us. At the same time, we are making sure that every dollar in our budget is spent strategically and efficiently.
Over the past four years, MCPS and its employees have done their part to help the county through these difficult economic times. The MCPS budget has been reduced by more than $400 million, requiring us to raise class sizes, eliminate hundreds of positions and put off cost-of-living and step increases for our employees. We recognize that our county leaders have had to make some very difficult funding decisions over the past few years, in all areas of the budget, including education. Today, the county’s per student contribution to education is $1,500 lower than it was in Fiscal Year 2009. These reductions have occurred as our student enrollment has reached an all-time high of 146,500 students. And we now have more students than ever who qualify for free and reduced-price meals and need English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services.
If we are going to keep up with our growing and changing student enrollment, we must continue Montgomery County’s history of investing in public education and make additional strategic investments in areas that will ensure our students graduate ready for college and careers in the 21st century.
The County Executive’s budget is an important step in the budget process. We encourage our staff, students and parents to stay informed and advocate for our schools—and our children—in the coming months. We look forward to working with the County Council on this budget request.