Board of Education Approves Final FY 2012 Operating Budget

June 16, 2011
The Montgomery County Board of Education passed a final Fiscal Year 2012 (FY 2012) operating budget Thursday, which includes $20 million in programmatic budget reductions, but no increase in overall class size.

On May 26, the Montgomery County Council passed a $2.09 billion operating budget for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). That is $127 million lower than the minimum funding required by state law, even though the district expects about 3,300 more students next year. Over the past three years, MCPS has received $160 million in additional state funding, but the County Council has taken $144 million of that funding and spent it for non-educational purposes.

With these reductions, MCPS will receive about $1,400 less per student in local funding in FY 2012 than it did two years ago.

“We have worked carefully and deliberately to minimize the impact these budget cuts will have on direct classroom instruction,” said Christopher S. Barclay, president of the Board of Education. “I know that our outstanding staff will do their very best to continue to focus on the needs of our students and continue the tradition of excellence at MCPS.”

For a third consecutive year, MCPS employees will not receive a cost of living increase and for a second straight year, no step or longevity salary increases will be given. MCPS employees will also pay two percent more into their pensions due to a change in state law.

“We have been cutting and cutting and asking our staff to do more with less and yet, each year, our students perform at even higher levels,” said Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast. “Over the past four years, our employees have saved the taxpayers of Montgomery County more than $400 million and have been true partners in containing our costs. They deserve our respect and our thanks.”

Including FY 2012, MCPS has cut 1,287 positions over the past four years—about two-thirds of the positions added the previous 10 years, a period of dramatic enrollment growth.
The full list of this year’s reductions can be viewed on the MCPS website but, in addition to the elimination of salary increases, the cuts made by the Board of Education include:

-  The elimination of 34 media assistant positions, saving $1.43 million, and 51 staff development teacher positions, saving $3.72 million.
-  Reductions to the number of paraeducators, parent community coordinators, lunch hour aides, secretaries and teacher assistants, as well as a reduction of eight Reading Recovery positions, meaning fewer schools will be able to offer the intervention program.
-  The elimination of a total of 46 central office positions and other resources, saving $5 million. Over the past three years, central office has been reduced by over 182 positions—a cut of more than 20 percent.

The County Council took $18 million directly out of the district’s fund that provides healthcare benefits to employees. Through a ten-year effort to contain escalating healthcare costs and lower than expected claims, the district will be able to save this money without raising the amount employees pay for their benefits next year.

For more than ten years, the Joint Employee Benefits Committee has been working to identify ways to control healthcare expenditures. The committee includes representatives from the MCPS administration and the district’s three employee unions—the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP) and SEIU Local 500, which represents thousands of service employees.

“Our employees have been active partners in helping the district and the county through these difficult economic times by voting to give up their raises and accepting increased workloads and responsibilities,” said Mr. Barclay. “They will already see a smaller paycheck next year due to increases in state and local pension contributions, changes in federal tax law and the rising cost of gasoline, food and other necessities. This is not the time to be cutting our employees’ paychecks even further.”  

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