Board Adopts FY 2001 Budget Request Board Approves Reduction in Large Classes, Expands Peer Mediation, and Funds Employee Contracts in New Budget

February 8, 2000
The Board of Education today [Tuesday, February 8] unanimously approved a request of $1.2 billion next year for the operating budget of the Montgomery County Public Schools, adding new funding requests to reduce over-size classes in high school, improve peer mediation programs, and cut the student activity fee in half.

The new budget request also includes more than $30.4 million for the tentative contract agreements for instructional, administrative, and support staff that would provide an improvement in salaries of approximately 5 percent next year.

The action by the Board builds on the recommendations of Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, who had proposed a comprehensive package of improvements, spanning the entire educational program from Kindergarten through high school.

The Board's action would provide assistance to teachers, students, and parents in response to the findings and recommendations in the "Call to Action" issued in October. The report called for major new initiatives to raise the bar for student standards and performance and close the student achievement gap by race and ethnicity.

The new budget, which now will be submitted to the county executive and County Council, would provide an increase of $112 million next year (10.3 percent) over this year.

Among the improvements are on-site staff development teachers in every school, who will be able to provide in-classroom training for teachers in instructional strategies and best practices. A cadre of permanent substitute teachers also would be added to allow teachers to engage in intensive training while minimizing disruption to their classes.

Class size reductions with ratios of 17 to 1 in Kindergarten through Grade 2 over a three-year period in high impact schools will allow teachers to have more focused instruction for students. A comprehensive full-day Kindergarten program, with a revamped curriculum for both full-day and half-day programs, is intended to help teachers assist at-risk students.

Literacy teams in every school, along with targeted intervention programs and specialized efforts to accelerate instruction, will assist schools in reading, writing, and mathematics. Another initiative calls for an improved "decision support system" that will provide student achievement data and other school-based information for teachers and principals in a timely and convenient manner. A team of "consulting teachers" also would be available to help new teachers and those having difficulty in the classroom.

Several initiatives in collaboration with Montgomery College are designed to prepare students for success after high school. Other initiatives strengthen partnerships with interagency and community organizations focused on early childhood preparation for school.

Initiatives also focus on accelerating the instructional program, including expansion of the William and Mary reading initiative, the Singapore primary math pilot, the "Hands-On Equations" program in Grades 3-5, an enhancement of the Algebra 1 initiative in secondary schools, and the provision of graphing calculators for high school students unable to afford them. In addition, greater effort will be given to provide students with extra help, including expansion of the Reading Recovery Program, Soar to Success, and summer math programs.

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