Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan announced today [Thursday, March 14] that he will recommend to the County Council that the Board of Education’s budget request for the 2002-2003 school year be fully funded at $1.4 billion, an increase of $77 million over the current year.
The 5.9-percent budget increase, which incorporates new federal funding for Title I schools, permits expansion of critical instructional initiatives including the opening of a new middle school and 13 more full-day kindergarten programs with reduced class sizes (to a total of 47 schools), along with expanded professional development programs in support of ongoing instructional reforms.
“Clearly, the County Executive recognizes the efforts we have made to focus the resources of our school system on priority instructional areas, and we welcome his continued efforts to secure the necessary funding for the improvement of our public schools,” said Reginald M. Felton, president of the Board of Education. “We’ve worked closely with him to fashion a budget request that would be affordable, and he has responded with his full support.”
The Board of Education’s budget request included $35 million in deferrals and cuts in programs and services that had been envisioned for next year. Since last fall, the school system has been operating under a partial freeze on hiring and expenditures that is anticipated to save at least $6 million this year.
Under the FY 2003 budget, $3.2 million would be spent for ongoing initiatives to improve instruction. Full-day kindergarten would expand to a total of 47 schools, each with a strengthened curriculum and average class size of 15 students. The budget also would fund the opening of the new Newport Mill Middle School in the Einstein cluster and two new Centers for the Highly Gifted. Additional teachers would be hired, especially at the secondary level, and expenditures would increase for special education, students with limited English proficiency, transportation, food services and related costs.
Among the new initiatives is an effort to enhance the academic instruction of students attending kindergarten through Grade 3 for the 18 federally funded Title I schools beginning this summer. The initiative would include a four-week summer program of four hours of enriched instruction and accelerated academics each day for more than 4,500 students.
Workforce excellence improvements would include third-year implementation of a consulting teacher initiative plus expansion of the staff development substitute teacher program. Ongoing curriculum reform efforts would continue in kindergarten through Grade 8, with new efforts to align high school requirements with more rigorous content. Technology resources would be redirected to support development and implementation of Integrated Quality Management Systems to support teachers and improve student achievement.
A growing enrollment
Much of the budget increase would be used to maintain programs and services for a growing enrollment. MCPS enrollment is projected to increase next year by about 2,000 to 138,794 students, a record-setting growth that has propelled the school system to become the largest in Maryland and the 12th fastest growing in the United States. Enrollment is projected to reach more than 140,000 students by FY 2007.
The projected growth next year accounts for almost 12 percent of the increase. Most of the budget 80.5 percent is for instructional costs, with 13.6 percent for school support services, 2.6 percent for systemwide support and 3.3 percent for enterprise funds.
Deferrals and reductions
The $12 million in deferrals will delay many of the initiatives planned for FY 2003 until additional resources become available. In addition, reductions of $23 million will be made in current operations, cutting 168 positions. A total of $16.3 million (72 percent) in reductions comes from central services and support operations. An additional $1.7 million in reductions can be made for the systemwide cost of employee benefits.
Note: Detailed information about the Board of Education's FY 2003 budget request and the County Executive's budget recommendations is available online at the links below.