Board Adopts $1.7 Billion FY 2006 Operating Budget

February 8, 2005
The Montgomery County Board of Education unanimously adopted a $1.7 billion Fiscal Year 2006 Operating Budget Tuesday that includes new investments to reduce class size, expand full-day kindergarten, enhance special education, and provide teachers with more technology tools to aid instruction.

“This budget truly reflects the community’s education priorities and ensures that we are on the right track to continue delivering the highest quality education possible to our students. Our efforts to reduce class size will give teachers more time to teach and students more one-on-one time with their teachers,” said Board of Education President Patricia B. O’Neill. “Our investment in education in Montgomery County has yielded great results over the last five years. Now, we need to work to win approval of the budget by the County Executive and the County Council to enable our progress to continue.”

Academic achievement over the last five years includes the highest SAT scores in the history of Montgomery County and Maryland with the greatest number of seniors ever to take the test. Academic achievement is apparent throughout the system. Second and third graders are among the highest achieving students on state and national tests, a record number of students are reading in kindergarten, and high schools are among the most competitive in the nation.

“We are demonstrating that when you hire top quality teachers, administrators, and support staff and give them the tools they need to do their jobs – good things happen,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “Every day we are seeing our investments in our people pay off in the performance of our students.”

The FY 2006 budget is aligned with the Board’s strategic plan and sets the course for continued success well into the future. Specifically, the FY 2006 budget includes an increase of $109.5 million over the FY 2005 budget. This reflects a 6.8 percent increase, which is a smaller percentage increase than last year and less than the average of the past five years.

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 has the third lowest percentage of central administrative costs in the state and the highest percentage of dollars invested in the classroom.

Specifically, the $109.5 million increase for FY 2006 would provide:

• $26.5 million in improvement initiatives
o First change in maximum class size guidelines in 20 years – $9.8 million to add 175 teachers
o Acceleration of full-day kindergarten to 20 more schools, for a total of 93 schools – $2.4 million
o New investment in special education – $3.3 million
o Greater accountability measures and technology tools for teachers – $3.0 million
o Largest investment in school-based leadership support – $1.2 million to pay for a total of 18 new assistant principals
o Other initiatives to improve student achievement including the expansion of gifted and talented and IB programs – $6.8 million
• $14.4 million for school growth and growth in special education and ESOL programs
• $64.7 million for employee salaries and benefits, as well as benefits for retirees
• $3.9 million for transportation, inflation, and other costs

The FY 2006 budget will require a smaller increase in resources from Montgomery County taxpayers due to an expected increase in state funding. The Montgomery County share of the FY 2006 budget increase totals $74.0 million – a 6.1 percent increase in local funding compared to last year’s 7.4 percent.

MCPS is scheduled to receive $33.1 million in state funding in FY 2006. The increased state funding is a result of the Thornton Commission changes in state education funding. MCPS also is entitled to $12 million in added state aid from funding for the Geographic Cost of Education Index, but this funding was omitted from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich’s budget.

The Board of Education will now transmit the FY 2006 Operating Budget to the Montgomery County Council. County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is expected to deliver his recommended budget to the Council on March 15.

The Council will hold numerous hearings on the budget in the spring and is expected to take final action on the budget in late May.


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