For his second budget cycle as the head of Montgomery County Public Schools, Dr. Jack R. Smith had submitted a proposed operating budget totally $2.59 billion for Fiscal Year 2019. The proposed budget is $67.3 million higher than last year’s propose budget, which is a 2.7 percent increase.
According to the release, the $2.59 billion operating budget will allow the district to continue to absorb and manage the significant enrollment growth and build the foundation and structure that is needed to ensure that all MCPS students are able to achieve at higher levels.
Last year’s proposed MCPS operating budget carried a 2.5 percent or $62.4 million over the FY2017 operating budget.
A video of Dr. Smith's presentation of the Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget can be viewed here.
“My budget recommendation focuses on the foundational elements of our district—students, classrooms and schools,” stated Smith. “This budget addresses increasing enrollment, rising costs and critical investments to both maintain the level of academic excellence our schools are known for and to close the gaps in access, opportunity and achievement for students who have yet to meet their potential.”
In his memo to the Board of Education about the FY2019 Operating Budget Smith wrote, “My recommendation includes an increase of $67.3 million and 166.224 Full-time Equivalent positions compared to the current FY 2018 budget to fund services for a growing number of students, the costs of operating the school system, and our strategic key bodies of work. Part of this increase is offset by savings of$10,761,420 generated by efficiencies and reductions. In addition, this budget assumes that the Montgomery County Council will continue to fund $27,200,000 from the county's Consolidated Other Post-employment Benefits Trust Fund to cover a portion of our retiree health benefits costs.”
For the 2017-2018 school year, MCPS became the 14th largest school system in the United States with 161,546 students enrolled, a one-year increase of 2,536 students. The projected enrollment for the 2018–2019 school year is 163,774, or 2,742 students. FY 2019 will be the 10th consecutive year that enrollment has increased by at least 2,000 students.
Most of the recommended spending increase will be used to provide the same level of services to this growing number of students; fund ongoing salaries and benefits; and manage increasing operational costs.
“While most of the student enrollment growth in recent years occurred in elementary schools,” Smith wrote to the Board of Education, “currently we are experiencing dramatic increases in secondary school enrollment-a trend expected to continue in the coming years as elementary students move into middle and high schools. By the 2023-2024 school year, enrollment is expected to reach 169,012 students, an increase of more than 7,500 students from the current fiscal year.”
In order to manage anticipated student enrollment growth in FY 2019, Smith’s budget adds 193.8 full-time equivalent positions, including 84.5 general elementary/secondary full-time equivalent positions, 77.4 full-time positions for special education services, and 32.0 full-time positions to serve our growing population of students who receive English for Speakers of Other Languages services. “We also need 9.6 full-time equivalent positions to open the new Richard Montgomery Elementary School #5 as well as 5.0 full-time equivalent positions to add Grade 8 to Silver Creek Middle School for the 2018-2019 school year. There also is 1.0 full-time equivalent for preparation for the opening of Clarksburg Cluster Elementary School #2. Finally, we need 25.5 full-time equivalent positions in school support operations for transportation and school plant operations for the additional students and facilities expected next fiscal year,” wrote Smith.
The recommendation also includes $7.74 million to expand and implement key bodies of work. This includes: Introducing new career readiness pathways, including Aviation and Aerospace; Cybersecurity; Fire Safety and Rescue; Law Enforcement and Leadership; and more.
As well as, adding more two-way elementary language immersion programs, as well, as, expanding programs in Computer Science, Coding and Robotics. A portion of the $7.74 million will also Implementing extended year programs at two elementary schools beginning July 2019, launching a Recovery Education program, and expanding the College Tracks and Achieving Collegiate Excellence & Success (ACES) programs.
Smith’s recommendation reflects the Board of Education’s budget interests and significant input from an array of stakeholders. This included staff, parents, students and community members who were a part of several budget teams and provided input on specific areas of need.
The recommended budget also was built in partnership with representatives from the MCPS employee associations, the Budget Steering Committee and several district and community groups.
Smith presented the framework of his budget to the Board of Education during its Dec. 5 business meeting.
“We appreciate the effort and collaboration that helped shape this budget recommendation,” said Michael Durso, president of the Board of Education. “We look forward to hearing from the public on Dr. Smith’s recommendation, as we seek to build a budget that will help us ensure all students have the resources and opportunities they need to succeed.”
The Board of Education will hold multiple public hearings and work sessions on the operating budget beginning Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018.
Video and graphics courtesy MCPS.