Board Adopts $1.8 Billion FY 2007 Operating Budget

February 14, 2006
Poolesville High School Magnet Program Approved

Full-Day Kindergarten Added in 30 Schools

The Montgomery County Board of Education adopted a $1.8 billion FY 2007 operating budget designed to build on the progress made over the last six years.

The FY 2007 operating budget is part of a multiyear plan to improve student achievement for all Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students. The budget, which passed by a vote of 5 to 2, includes new resources to improve special education; strengthen middle and high schools; expand International Baccalaureate and gifted programs, including a new magnet program at Poolesville High School; increase foreign language translation services; and complete the expansion of full-day kindergarten to all elementary schools. Board members Charles Haughey, Sharon Cox, Steve Abrams, Patricia O’Neill, and Gabe Romero voted for the budget. Board members Valerie Ervin and Nancy Navarro voted against.

Previous investments in student success have yielded exceptional results, including: MCPS seniors broke 1100 on the SAT for the second year in a row—something no other school system in Maryland has done; Newsweek magazine ranked all 23 eligible high schools in the top 3 percent in the nation; and more students than ever before are taking and succeeding in Advanced Placement and Honors courses in high school. In fact, 54 percent of the Class of 2005 took at least one AP exam and 44 percent scored well enough to earn college credit—triple the national average and double the Maryland average.

MCPS students continue to exceed expectations at the elementary level as well. Fourth graders excelled on the Maryland School Assessment last year, scoring higher than any other class. This year, a record 3,800 fifth graders are taking accelerated math courses.

“One of the main reasons our teachers, administrators, and support staff have been able to help so many students succeed is because our community has strongly supported the Board’s investments to improve education. We’ve worked well together over the last six years to fashion a plan where every student can succeed, and we are making enormous progress toward that goal,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “The FY 2007 budget gives us the resources we need to continue our multiyear plan to increase student achievement.”

“This budget puts the resources where they are most needed to improve student achievement, investing more in full day kindergarten, strengthening our middle school programs, and providing greater assistance for struggling high school students,” said Dr. Charles Haughey, president of the Board of Education. “We are targeting our investments and believe they will produce the kind of outstanding results we have been seeing for the last six years. It’s clear that when you invest wisely, results will follow.”

Poolesville High School will open a new magnet program in the fall of 2006 to serve upcounty students. The rigorous magnet program will be available to all students in the school. The program’s curriculum is still being developed, but will include elements of the Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Program and the Communications Arts Program at Montgomery Blair High School, as well as the Global Ecology Studies Program currently at Poolesville.

Board members Steve Abrams, Sharon Cox, Patricia O’Neill, and Gabe Romero sponsored a budget amendment to accelerate the expansion of full-day kindergarten to the 13 final schools that were slated to receive full-day kindergarten in FY 2008. In addition, the amendment includes four ESOL parent community coordinator positions and a new position to review and evaluate the effectiveness of Board of Education policies. The total cost of the amendment is $1.5 million. The amendment passed 5 to 2 with Board members Navarro and Ervin voting no.

The budget also includes about $300,000 to fund 5.6 new positions to serve the growing number of students who do not speak English as their first language. Revised enrollment projections show that MCPS expects the ESOL enrollment to grow by an additional 270 students compared to earlier estimates.

Specifically, the FY 2007 budget includes an increase of $124 million (7 percent) over the FY 2006 budget for a total of $1.8 billion. As in past years, the vast majority of the budget (89 percent) pays for MCPS personnel. Administrative costs remain low, at 2 percent, as more dollars are directed to the classroom. In fact, MCPS spends nearly 65 cents of every tax dollar on classroom instruction.

Specifically, the $124 million increase for FY 2007 would provide:

• $17 million in improvement initiatives
o Expand full-day kindergarten to 30 more schools for a total of 123 schools
o Strengthen special education in middle and high schools. That includes reducing the size of general education classes with special education students
o Lower high school class sizes in core subject areas
o Increase supports at high school to strengthen literacy, improve performance on High School Assessments, and boost the number of students eligible for extracurricular activities
o Add 15 elementary assistant principals
o Support middle school reform
o Expand IB and gifted programs, including new magnet program at Poolesville
o Increase foreign language translation services
o Enhance violence prevention programs
o Expand program to improve student safety on buses—Ride by the Rules
o Add 4 new ESOL parent community coordinators
o Expand Study Circles program to encourage parent involvement
o Improve technology supports for instruction
o Increase evaluation of Board of Education policies
o Add more support staff—building services workers and teacher aides
• $18 million for new schools and growth in special education and ESOL programs
• $75 million for employee salaries and benefits, as well as benefits for retirees
• $14 million for utilities, transportation, inflation, and other costs

The FY 2007 budget will require a smaller increase in resources from Montgomery County taxpayers due to an increase in state funding. The Montgomery County share of the FY 2007 budget increase totals $86 million.

MCPS is scheduled to receive $32.8 million in additional state funding in FY 2007. The increased state funding is a result of the Thornton Commission changes in state education funding. MCPS no longer expects to receive $17 million in added state aid from funding for the Geographic Cost of Education Index.

The Board of Education’s FY 2007 Operating Budget will now be transmitted to County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. Mr. Duncan will include the MCPS budget in the County’s FY 2007 Operating Budget, which will be released March 15, 2006.

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