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MCPS Puts Forth $2.45 Billion Budget for FY 2017

Budget increases 4.5 percent or $103 Million

Montgomery County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Larry A. Bowers presented the recommended $2.45 billion Fiscal Year 2017 Operating Budget to the Board of Education on Tuesday, Dec. 8. The budget calls for a 4.5 percent increase in new spending designed to strengthen the system’s foundation, which has been squeezed by eight years of difficult economic times.

“This budget solidifies our foundation and prepares MCPS to make investments in future years to address the growing needs of our students,” said Bowers, who plans to retire in June 2016 after serving MCPS for 38 years. “I recognize that the economic times are still challenging but we cannot cut our budget any further and, in fact, we have to begin investing again if we are going to give our students the education they deserve.”

The $103.0 million increase Bowers’ is recommending will pay for the same level of services for more than 2,500 additional students and includes investments to improve students’ literacy and math skills; build the cultural proficiency of staff; foster stronger partnerships with the community and families to support students; and better organize the district to ensure every student is prepared for college and careers.

The $103 million increase is almost the same figure that was recommended by then Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr at this time last year as the FY 2016 Operating Budget was introduced. Last year, Starr asked for an increase of $103.6 million. Starr would leave MCPS two months later in February of 2015.

The FY 2016 budget which as approved by the Board of Education was later cut by $10.3 million in anticipation of lower-than-expected funding from the state of Maryland, and MCPS was later forced to cut an additional $53 million from the budget by the Montgomery County Council.

With this new budget, Bowers is reiterating his warning that Montgomery County can not continue to fund the school system at the minimum level required by state law, called Maintenance of Effort.

In his comments to the Board of Education on Tuesday, Bowers made it clear that the community must change the way the budget has been funded over for the past eight years. Since 2009, MCPS has been funded at or below the minimum funding level required by the Maintenance of Effort law. Such funding has resulted in class size increases, reduced essential professional development, and has left students with fewer supports and interventions than they need to be successful.

“We cannot continue to fund the budget as we have in the past and expect the school system and our schools to meet our targets and c