Weast Recommends $2.1 Billion FY 2010 Operating Budget

December 11, 2008
Elimination of Pay Raises, $35.5 Million in Cuts among Measures to Close $176 Million Gap; No Across-the-Board Class Size Increase and No New County Taxpayer Funds Sought

Superintendent Jerry D. Weast today recommended a $2.1 billion Fiscal Year 2010 Operating Budget for Montgomery County Public Schools that closes a $176 million gap without seeking any new local taxpayer funding and without any across-the-board increase in class size. The superintendent’s FY 2010 budget is balanced, in large part, by a combination of current year savings that will be carried over to Fiscal Year 2010, major budget reductions for the next year, and the elimination of cost-of-living pay raises for all employees.

“This is a budget that reflects the harsh realities of a global economic crisis that is impacting us all, nationally, regionally and locally,” said Weast. “We had to make some very difficult choices. But by working collaboratively with our employee associations and our PTAs, I believe we’ve come up with a plan that charts a fiscally prudent course, yet does so in a way that is least harmful to the classroom and to our students.”

In transmitting his budget to the Board of Education, Weast said, “Given the severity of the economic crisis, next year will not allow for any new initiatives but, rather, will require much sacrifice. I know how difficult it is for employees to forgo their wage increases, especially in such uncertain times. But this is the reality we are facing.”

The superintendent’s recommended budget of $2.1 billion includes an increase of just $40.2 million, or 2 percent, over the current year budget. The only additional local money would come from the nearly $20 million that will be generated this year in savings and carried into next year’s budget. Another $20.7 million comes from additional state funding that is expected under the current funding formula.

Total increases of approximately $75.5 million in the FY 2010 Operating Budget include funding for districtwide enrollment growth and the opening of a new elementary school in Clarksburg ($20.5 million); rising employee benefit costs ($26 million); “step” increases in the salary schedule for eligible employees ($19.6 million); and inflation and other costs ($9.4 million). Those increases will be offset by $35.5 million in program reductions and efficiencies.

FY 2010 Budget Reductions

Among the $35.5 million in next year’s budget reductions are:

-$10.5 million, or 30 percent, of the total reductions, from central services. This includes the elimination of 70.5 positions. This brings total reductions in central services to $18.3 million and 122.8 positions, over two years.
-$3.5 million, or 10 percent, of the overall cuts, in support operations, with 10 positions eliminated.
-$16.7 million (47 percent of the total) reduced in school-based resources, with 197.5 positions eliminated.
-$4.8 million (13 percent) in systemwide employee benefits.

Community Participation

The operating budget was developed in full partnership with the employee associations representing teachers (MCEA), support professionals (SEIU Local 500), and administrators (MCAASP and MCBOA), and with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. These organizations, along with the feedback provided by community members who participated in two community forums in the fall, played critical roles in identifying budget priorities and cost-saving measures.

FY 2010 Operating Budget Timeline

-Board of Education operating budget hearings: Jan. 14 and 21 at 7 p.m. each evening.
-Board operating budget worksessions: Jan. 28 and 29 at 6 p.m. each evening
-Board operating budget adoption: Feb. 9, 10 a.m.
-Operating  budget request presented to county executive and County Council: Feb. 27
-County executive issues operating budget: March 16
-County Council operating budget hearings: April
-Council approves operating budget: May 21
-Board of Education takes final action to adopt FY 2010 Operating Budget: June 9

The public hearings on the FY 2010 Operating Budget, set for Jan. 14 and 21, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Carver Educational Services Center (CESC) auditorium. Individuals who wish to speak should call the Board at 301-279-3617, with sign-ups beginning on Dec. 26. The Board work sessions will be held on Jan. 28 and 29 at 6:00 p.m. in the CESC Board of Education hearing room.

For more information on the operating budget, visit the MCPS website.

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