The Board of Education today [Tuesday, June 13] delayed final adoption of the Fiscal Year 2001 operating budget pending resolution of a $3.2-million shortfall in state funding for the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.
County officials are lobbying to have the $3.2 million restored by the state because the loss would significantly impact the ESOL program. Montgomery County has the largest enrollment of ESOL students in the state more than 8,000 students reflecting more than 40 percent of the enrollment statewide.
"It is critical that we obtain this funding for our most vulnerable students," said Board President Patricia B. O'Neill.
The county's budget funding for the school system was built on the expectation of receiving the $3.2 million in state funds. The Maryland General Assembly already has approved the funding (as originally included in the governor's budget) but the Maryland State Department of Education has not released the funds because of a change in enrollment calculations.
Efforts are ongoing to have the state funding restored including intense lobbying at the state level by County Council President Michael Subin, County Executive Douglas Duncan, legislative delegation members, and community leaders who work closely with English language learners.
The loss of $3.2 million reflects a potential cut of nearly one-fourth of the entire state funding for the ESOL program in
"This would be a significant and unacceptable loss, affecting students who need our help in learning the English language so that they can be successful in our schools," said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools.
The Board of Education agreed today to delay further consideration of the budget until June 26 or earlier, with anticipation of having the $3.2 million shortfall restored. The Board must adopt its Fiscal Year 2001 budget by the end of June.