Board President Issues Statement on Office of Legislative Oversight Report

September 22, 2015

Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia B. O’Neill released the following statement on the Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight report, “Resources and Staffing among Montgomery County Public Schools.”

We appreciate the Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) examination of how we use state funds. The Board of Education is committed to equitable funding that provides substantially more resources and staffing to our most impacted schools.

While we are already doing a tremendous amount in this area, the OLO report suggests we should do more. We agree—my Board colleagues and I would like to differentiate resources even more than we already do. But local per-student funding is less today than it was in 2009, and this has required us to make budget reductions for seven consecutive years. This includes the elimination of more than 1,800 positions at a time when our student enrollment has increased by more than 15,000 students.

The Board will be studying the report in detail; in the meantime, our interim superintendent Larry Bowers has provided the OLO with a detailed response. It outlines the significant efforts we make to support our most impacted schools. For instance, we invest as much as $3,000 to $4,000 more per student in our high poverty schools. These additional funds provide more positions and programs that keep class sizes lower and provide for more individualized support to students. We are proud of our commitment to equity and the way we differentiate funding, which has been recognized as a best practice across the nation.

The reality is that all of our schools need additional resources, especially as the needs of our students continue to increase. While we’ve had unprecedented growth over the last several years, Montgomery County has contributed almost $1,500 less per student compared to 2009 funding levels.  In addition, we had to cut $53 million from our schools this June, which required us to eliminate about 340 school-based instructional positions. 

I agree with Council member Craig Rice who, in a statement on the OLO report, congratulated the Board for the work it has done to provide equitable funding, and added: “I look forward to working together as we discuss what additional programmatic resources would best support our students with the most needs and how we can effectively and creatively implement these strategies.”

My Board colleagues are committed to ensuring that all of our schools have the resources they need to help every student succeed and we will work with the County Council to accomplish this. We also hope that we can work with our County Council colleagues this year to increase the county’s per-student funding so that we can meet the growing needs of our more than 156,000 students.

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