Montgomery County Board of Education President Phil Kauffman, Vice President Patricia O’Neill and Superintendent Joshua P. Starr have agreed to a proposal from County Council President Craig Rice that funds the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget. The Council plans to use reserve funds from MCPS health care trust funds to make up the shortfall in funding for school system operations next year.
The Montgomery County Board of Education had requested a $2.32 billion Operating Budget, which represents a 4 percent increase over this year. The budget will allow MCPS to manage its continued growth, narrow achievement gaps, and prepare students to meet higher expectations. The Board is scheduled to approve a final FY 2015 budget in June.
Below are statements from Board President Kauffman and Superintendent Starr on the agreement announced Monday:
Board President Phil Kauffman
“We appreciate the Council’s commitment to Montgomery County Public Schools in providing the resources we need to fund our Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget request. We know that it is always challenging to meet the needs of our community when resources are strained.
“My Board colleagues and I constantly work to balance fiscal responsibility with the growing needs of our school system. This solution enables us to provide the resources our system needs and allows us to begin the conversations about how we plan future budgets. Our council colleagues have assured us that they will work to identify sources of revenue to replace the $40 million from our health care trust funds in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.
“In addition to this one-time source of funding from our trust funds, the entire $38 million of fund balance in the MCPS General Fund is being used to fund the FY 2015 Operating Budget. To the extent that this funding source is not replaced by the County Council with other revenue sources or MCPS is not able to generate additional surpluses, MCPS would face a significant deficit that would have to be addressed through substantial budget cuts.
“The MCPS FY 2016 Operating Budget also will require additional resources to meet our known commitments. It is estimated that the funding needed next year will be about $135 million above the Maintenance of Effort funding level to replace the almost $78 million of one-time funding from fund balances in the General Fund and health trust funds and also address growth, strategic enhancements, and negotiated agreements.
Under Council President Craig Rice’s leadership, the Council, the Superintendent and the Board are working closely together and building the trust necessary to meaningfully collaborate on challenging issues. The Council knows that MCPS is critical to our community’s future and I know they want to continue to provide the investments necessary to make sure our children have every opportunity to succeed.”
Superintendent Joshua Starr
“I appreciate the County Council President finding a way to fund the Board of Education’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 and his commitment to ensuring that Montgomery County Public Schools has the resources it needs to serve all students in future years.
“As Superintendent, I have an obligation to advocate for the resources our students need while honoring my commitment to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. This budget is part of a multiyear effort that allows us to manage our growth, engage in new strategies to narrow the achievement gap, and prepare our staff and students for a new curriculum, new tests, and higher expectations.
“As our district grows and changes, we must invest consistently, strategically, and collaboratively to meet the individual needs of our students today and in the future. I look forward to working with the County Executive and the County Council on how we can fund MCPS in future years to ensure our students are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the 21st century.”