The Montgomery County Council today [Thursday, May 24] approved an 8.8-percent increase in funding for the Montgomery County Public Schools next year, adding $107.5 million to the operating budget over the current year. The total operating budget for Fiscal Year 2002 of $1.3 billion includes further class-size reductions, expanded full-day kindergarten and enhanced professional staff development, plus improved reading, writing and math programs.
In addition, the Council approved amendments to the FY 2002 capital budget and the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) ending in 2006. The approved capital budget for next year is $135.6 million, and the approved CIP is $695.8 million for a variety of school construction projects over the course of the next five years.
On the operating budget, the Board of Education and Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, helped gain $12.4 million in additional funding over the Council's original spending affordability guidelines. This additional funding will provide for a range of initiatives initially placed on a list for possible reduction.
Nearly all of the school system's requested budget was funded, with the exception of about $12.5 million in expenditures that were identified either by the Board of Education or the Council for reduction. This includes $7.9 million in reductions and streamlining identified by the school system prior to the Council's action.
The main part of the Board's original budget request was fully funded, including the academic initiatives that continue the second year of a four-year plan focusing on the academic priorities approved by the Board last year.
Driving most of the budget increase is the continued growth in enrollment. Montgomery County has the 12th fastest growing school district in the United States and the largest school district in Maryland. The projected enrollment next year is about 137,800 students.
Also funded in the budget were salary and benefit commitments to the teachers and other employees, plus funding for students who need special education, counseling and other support, English language instruction and alternative programs. Increased assistance for middle school instruction, technology, security, accountability, school administration and building maintenance also is included.
The Council approved grant funds of $1.5 million for the Governor's Early Childhood Initiative, to avoid reductions in the base budget items that affect elementary schools. The Council also approved $2.3 million in additional federal funding for additional initiatives in Title I eligible schools.
Additional information on the Council's action is available at the link below: