Council Adopts MCPS Operating & Capital Budgets

May 25, 2006
Montgomery County Council Unanimously Adopts MCPS FY 2007 $1.85 Billion Operating Budget and $1.2 Billion Six-Year Capital Plan

Full-Day Kindergarten Added in 30 Schools; Employee Pensions Improved

Six-Year Construction Plan Will Significantly Reduce Number of Portables

ROCKVILLE, MD – The Montgomery County Council unanimously adopted Thursday the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) $1.85 billion Fiscal Year 2007 operating budget to continue improving student achievement and the six-year Capital Improvements Program that will significantly reduce the number of portable classrooms across the county.

“The County Council has reaffirmed its commitment to our students, staff, and parents by continuing to invest in our students’ success and our employees’ retirement security,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “We appreciate the Council’s support of our reform efforts and County Executive Doug Duncan’s strong leadership in securing additional resources to help us pursue our mission of providing a high-quality education for every child in Montgomery County. In addition, the support for our capital program will allow us to cut in half the number of portable classrooms on our campuses over the next six years.”

FY 2007 Operating Budget

The County Council’s action approves more than 99.9 percent of the Board of Education’s operating budget request for FY 2007. The budget includes new funds to expand full-day kindergarten at 30 additional elementary schools, completing the state mandate to offer full-day kindergarten at all schools a year ahead of schedule. It also includes funding to open five new schools and to implement $17.4 million in new initiatives. The initiatives will improve special education services, add 15 more elementary assistant principals, reduce high school class size, improve outreach services to parents of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, strengthen middle and high schools, create a new magnet program at Poolesville High School, increase foreign language translation services, and add resources for building services.

The Council also agreed to fund $13.2 million in new pension improvements passed by the Board of Education to give MCPS employees greater retirement security. Under the Board’s plan, employees hired after July 1, 1998, will be able to receive 60 percent of the average final salary after completing a 30-year career with MCPS. That is significantly better than the current 45 percent employees can receive under the old pension formula. Employees hired before 1998 also will receive increased benefits for all years worked since 1998.

“We have made excellent progress in our mission to raise student achievement because we have outstanding teachers, administrators, and support staff who are so dedicated to our children. I’m thankful that this budget allows us to provide for a more secure retirement for our valued employees,” said Dr. Charles Haughey, president of the Board of Education. “One of the fundamental reasons for our progress is the strong support from our community, our county executive, and our County Council. We have invested our resources wisely, and the Council’s action today is a clear endorsement of our efforts over the last six years.”

The FY 2007 operating budget builds on the student success achieved over the last six years and is part of a multiyear plan to improve achievement for all students. Previous investments have yielded exceptional results. For example, Newsweek magazine ranked all 23 eligible high schools in the top 3 percent in the nation 2 years in a row and included 5 MCPS schools in the top 100 high schools in America based on the school system’s strong Advanced Placement (AP) program. MCPS has more students than ever before taking and succeeding in AP and Honors courses. 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.

The FY 2007 operating budget also includes funds to open a new magnet program at Poolesville High School 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 will include elements of the Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science Program and the Communication Arts Program at Montgomery Blair High School, as well as the Global Ecology Studies Program currently at Poolesville.

The FY 2007 operating budget entails an increase of $137 million (8 percent) over the FY 2006 budget, for a total of $1.85 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 $137 million increase for FY 2007 would provide:

• $17.4 million in improvement initiatives
o Expand full-day kindergarten to 30 more schools, completing expansion to all schools
o Strengthen special education in middle and high schools. This 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 High School
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 Implement a new apprenticeship program for maintenance services
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
• $88 million for employee salaries and benefits, as well as benefits for retirees, including
$13.2 million to fund the new pension improvements.
• $14 million for utilities, transportation, inflation, and other costs

Capital Improvements Program, 2007–2012

The County Council also fully funded the Board of Education’s six-year $1.2 billion Capital Improvements Program, which will address the overdue need for additional classroom space and significantly reduce the number of portable classrooms in use.

Currently, MCPS has about 17,000 students attending classes in 719 portable classrooms across the county. The six-year capital plan will allow MCPS to add enough permanent classroom space to eliminate 367 portable classrooms.

“It will be welcome news to our parents and staff to know that this budget enables us to cut in half the number of portables in use,” said Dr. Weast. “With our enrollment leveling off, we will be able to catch up on some of the tremendous space needs we have across this system and make real progress in putting more children into permanent classrooms.”

The six-year $1.2 billion capital plan includes $254.8 million for FY 2007, an increase of $69.8 million over the previously approved FY 2007 expenditures. The increased budget is due primarily to significant increases in construction costs, which are occurring nationwide.

Over the next six years, the capital improvements will include:
• Construction of Clarksburg High School and six elementary schools
• Modernization of four high schools, three middle schools, and nine elementary schools
• Construction of 14 additions to elementary and high schools
• Construction of 30 elementary school gymnasiums for all existing, new, and reopened schools
• Core improvements at one high school and two middle schools
• Funding for various systemic projects

The budget also includes funding to replace roofs, upgrade heating and air conditioning, improve air quality, and address safety and security needs in numerous facilities.

MCPS currently operates 194 schools and will have 199 schools beginning in the 2006–2007 school year.

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