The Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt a $2.59 billion Operating Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, on February 29. This includes an increase of $72.96 million from FY 2018. The budget will allow Montgomery County Public Schools to manage enrollment growth and build on the foundation and structure needed to ensure all MCPS students are achieving at higher levels.
“This budget builds on investments the county and the school district have made in recent years that reflect our core values of learning, relationships, respect, excellence and equity while managing significant enrollment growth,” said Board President Michael Durso. “It defines a clear path to improved achievement for all students and instills confidence that MCPS will fulfill its core purpose of preparing all students to thrive.”
The Board submitted its budget request to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Montgomery County Council by Thursday, March 1. County Executive Leggett is expected to release his budget recommendation next Thursday, March 15.
A majority of the $72.96 million spending increase will be used to provide the same level of services to a growing number of students; manage increasing operational costs; and fund ongoing salaries and benefits.
Since FY 2009, MCPS’ enrollment has increased by more than 21,000 students, an increase of more than 2,300 students per year. It is expected that the district will continue to see significant growth and the additional investment is essential if the district is to maintain the quality of the school system and address the much needed work to improve the educational outcomes for all MCPS students.
“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.”
“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 budget focuses on key bodies of work that define a roadmap of the district’s current and future efforts. It includes $16.12 million to expand and implement strategic accelerators, which include; Introducing new career readiness pathways, including Aviation and Aerospace; Cybersecurity; Fire Safety and Rescue; Law Enforcement and Leadership; and more; Adding more two-way elementary language immersion programs; Expanding programs in Computer Science, Coding and Robotics; Implementing extended year programs at two elementary schools beginning July 2019; Launching a Recovery Education program; Expanding the College Tracks and Achieving Collegiate Excellence & Success (ACES) programs; and Expanding Middle and Early College programs.
The Board’s adopted operating budget reflects input from a broad array of stakeholders, including staff, parents, students and community members. The Board held two budget hearings and two work sessions. Following the hearings and work sessions, the Board proposed and tentatively approved several amendments to Dr. Smith’s recommended budget at its February 13 business meeting:
• Realignment of three instructional specialist positions from the Office of School Support and Improvement to the Office of Special Education to create three supervisor positions to support schools for a cost of $71,256
• Addition of one manager position to support Linkages to Learning for a cost of $124,220 for salary and benefits
• Addition of one consulting teacher position for a cost of $126,355 for salary and benefits
• Addition of .5 content specialist position for a cost of $78,134 for salary and benefits.
The Montgomery County Council will hold public hearings on the county budget in April before passing a final budget in May. After the County Council’s action, the Board of Education will vote again in June for final adoption of the FY 2019 budget.