Board Approves New Budget Request

February 10, 2003
The Board of Education has approved an updated budget request for Fiscal Year 2004 that includes funding for new contract agreements, a new program for highly gifted students, and increases in enrollment of special education students and English language learners.

The new initiative for highly gifted students would fund the first year phase-in of a program based at Roberto Clemente MS. The program would add one grade per year and accommodate 100 students, including 50 from the Clemente area and 50 others outside the area. It would be funded within the existing budget, including elimination of one unfilled position in the Board office.

Overall, the Board's amendments, which were approved Thursday, February 6, would increase the operating budget request by more than $12.5 million, to a total of $1,518,840,346, including grants and enterprise funds. The amendments were to the original budget proposed in December by Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools.

The largest amendment -- totaling more than $10.7 million -- was for salary and benefit increases negotiated with the two unions representing administrative/supervisory and supporting services employees. Both give staff a 3 percent salary increase, beginning July 1, 2003.

Providing adequate staffing for special education and ESOL students also was an impetus for increasing the school system's budget request, which will be presented to County Executive Douglas Duncan and the County Council on March 1.

The FY 2004 operating budget request is $70.5 million more than the FY 2003 (the current fiscal year) request from the Montgomery County government, an increase of 6.5 percent over the county's contribution last year. An additional $35 million is projected in state, federal and other revenue.

Even so, the budget still includes $15.6 million in program reductions because of tough economic conditions, eliminating 80 staff positions and reducing instructional supplies and materials to allow for the purchase of $3 million in new textbooks, among other measures. The cuts in central service offices are the heaviest, reducing expenditures by 3.6 percent next year, along with reductions of 2.1 percent for support operations and 0.6 percent for school-based expenditures.

Contract Agreements

The tentative agreement with the Montgomery County Association of Administrative and Supervisory Personnel (MCAASP) includes a salary increase of 3 percent to be applied to the salary schedule on July 1, 2003, at an additional cost to the school system of $2,029,806.

The MCAASP agreement also includes an increase of $10,000 for tuition reimbursement and $24,500 for additional annual and sick leave payment upon termination. The tentative three-year agreement has been approved by the MCAASP Board of Directors.

The tentative agreement with the Montgomery County Council of Supporting Services Employees (MCCSSE) also adds a salary increase of 3 percent, to be applied to the salary schedule on July 1, 2003. Total cost of the increase, including salaries and employee benefits, is $8,575,168.

The agreement includes an increase of $80,000 for holiday pay for certain summer employment and an increase of $4,000 for additional annual leave payment upon termination. The agreement is for a two-year period.

The Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), which represents teachers, and the Board reached a three-year contract in February 2001. That contract expires June 30, 2004.

Special Education

The amended increase includes $914,129 for special education. Staff from the departments of Planning and Capital Programming and Special Education have revised enrollment projections for special education students. The revised projections show a total net increase of 307 additional students in special classes and a decrease of 297 resource services.

The largest growth occurred in the secondary Learning and Academic Disability school-based services, creating a need for 10.5 FTE additional teachers and 9 additional special education instructional assistants (SEIA), and the Learning for Independence services, necessitating an additional 2 FTE teachers and 1.750 SEIAs.

Increases and decreases in projected students in all other special education services were minimal, with the original budget request covering required positions for FY 2004.

ESOL Enrollment

Based on enrollment projections for ESOL students, another $901,249 was added by Planning and Capital Programming and Enriched and Innovative Programs. Revised projections show a total net increase of 650 additional students in ESOL classes, with the largest growth occurring at the elementary level.

The elementary program requires an additional 12.2 teachers and $16,555 for textbooks and instructional materials. The high school program requires an additional 5 teachers and $4,054 for textbooks and instructional materials.

The total cost, including benefits, for the 17.2 positions is $880,640. Textbooks and materials add another $20,609 to the budget request.

Continuing Priorities

The overall budget recommendations focus on continuing priorities recommended by the superintendent and established in 1999 by the Board. These include ongoing initiatives to strengthen early childhood education, bolster curriculum and instruction, build professional staff development and implement a system of shared accountability.

Enrollment in MCPS continues to grow and is projected at more than 140,861 next year. The number of students affected by poverty has nearly doubled since 1990, to more than 31,000 students receiving free and reduced-price meal assistance. The number of students receiving special education resource services is at a record high of 18,783. ESOL enrollment has grown by almost 50 percent in the past three years, to about 12,150 students.

The County Council is scheduled to approve the operating budget on May 23, and the Board of Education will adopt the final budget on June 10.

A detailed description of the original proposed FY 2004 budget is available on the web at the link below.

<<Back to browse