Superintendent’s Recommended Budget Addresses Enrollment Growth

December 14, 2010
No New Programs or Initiatives in Proposed Spending Plan;
Complies with State “Maintenance of Effort” Provision

  Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast is recommending a $2.16 billion operating budget for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Fiscal Year 2012.  Dr. Weast’s recommended increase of $59.6 million represents a 2.8 percent increase over this year’s budget to account for 2.3 percent growth in student enrollment. The budget also will make up for $40 million in lost federal stimulus funds. The budget proposal does not include any new programs or initiatives, nor does it recommend a general cost of living increase for employees.

  “This budget recommendation seeks only to keep up with the dramatic growth in enrollment we have experienced over the past few years, so we can continue to provide every student in Montgomery County with a world-class education,” Dr. Weast said. “Even in these difficult economic times, our community has invested in education and we must continue to uphold that commitment for the good of our students and the future of our county.” 

  Over the past two months, MCPS has received external validation that Montgomery County residents are getting a strong return on their investment in public schools.  In November, MCPS was named a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the highest presidential honor an American organization can receive. The award recognizes performance excellence through innovation, improvement, and visionary leadership. MCPS is just the sixth school system to receive the award and is the largest, by far.
  In October, MCPS was named a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which recognizes large school systems that have improved student performance while narrowing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic achievement gaps. MCPS is the first district in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to be a finalist for this prestigious award and is the only district to ever be a Baldrige recipient and Broad finalist.

Maintenance of Effort—Maintenance of Commitment

  Dr. Weast’s budget recommendation meets the maintenance of effort (MOE) provision of state law. That provision requires the county to provide the same local per student funding level in FY 2012—$10,664—as it did in FY 2010. Since Montgomery County received a state waiver from MOE in FY 2011, it must return to FY 2010 funding levels to meet MOE.

  In order to meet MOE, the county will need to increase its commitment by $82 million over this fiscal year. The budget recommendation also assumes an increase in state aid of $27.5 million, due to enrollment growth and the increase in the number of students receiving free and reduced-price meals (FARMS). The state aid could be lost if the county government does not meet its MOE obligation.

  “We certainly recognize these are difficult economic times in Montgomery County and across the region,” Dr. Weast said. “But we cannot shortchange our students simply because they were born and educated during a recession. Our children only get one shot at an education and we have to make it count.”

  Over the past three years, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has cut more than $300 million from its budget through a variety of reductions and savings. MCPS is spending $1,000 less per student in FY 2011 than it did in FY 2010. Among the reductions made: 

   - In FY 2011, MCPS eliminated more than 400 positions and increased class size by an average of one student across the system. 
   - MCPS has reduced its central office by about 20 percent in the past three years, requiring the district to realign several offices and eliminate others. Central administrative services now accounts for less than two percent of MCPS’ total budget, the lowest amount ever.
   - MCPS employees have agreed to forgo cost-of-living increases for the past two years, and voted to give up step increases last year, saving the district more than $115 million, annually.
   - The district has instituted expenditure restrictions and a hiring freeze for the third consecutive year in FY 2011, and is already on track to save well over $10 million. 

Outstanding Results

   Dr. Weast commended the staff of MCPS for continuing to do excellent work even against the backdrop of very difficult budget challenges. Among the academic highlights over the past year:
   - MCPS students took nearly 30,000 Advanced Placement (AP) exams in 2010 and 71.7 percent of those exams received a college-ready score of 3 or higher, far outpacing the state and the nation.
   - In 2010, 91.7 percent of kindergarten students were reading at text level 4 and more than 75 percent were reading at text level 6. All subgroups of students have shown substantial gains over the past four years and the achievement gap has closed dramatically.
   - According to a report by
Education Week, MCPS has the highest graduation rate among the nation’s largest districts. Also, seven MCPS high schools were selected for Newsweek’s list of the 100 best high schools in the nation, the most of any school district in the United States. All 25 MCPS high schools placed among the top three percent in the nation. 
   - The class of 2010 earned nearly $235 million in college scholarships, generating an immediate 10 percent return on our budgetary investment.

  “It is a credit to our staff that MCPS students are achieving at historically-high levels and our district is being recognized nationally for its work,” Dr. Weast said. “However, I am very concerned that deeper cuts to our budget will severely undermine the progress we have made.” 

  Dr. Weast said the current economic climate does not allow him to recommend general wage increases for MCPS staff. However, he is not recommending any significant changes to their health insurance or benefit plans, nor is he recommending that staff take any furlough days.

  “Our employees have made difficult sacrifices for the students of Montgomery County over the past three years and I am recommending they give up their raises again next year,” Dr. Weast said. “They deserve our continued support, respect and gratitude for the continued exceptional performance during a very challenging time. They truly put the children first.”

Budget Process  

   The Board of Education will hold public hearings on the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2012 Operating Budget on Wednesday, January 12, 2011, and Wednesday, January 19, 2011. The Board will approve its final budget recommendation on February 8, 2011, which will then be submitted to the Montgomery County Council and County Executive Isiah Leggett for consideration.

  “We look forward to hearing from our community about the budget over the next several weeks as we review Dr. Weast’s recommendation,” said Christopher S. Barclay, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “These are challenging economic times and we are committed to developing a responsible budget for FY 2012 while upholding our promise of providing an outstanding education to the children of our county.”
MCPS FY 2012 Budget Website

FY 2012 Budget Timeline

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