$31 Million Funding Shortfall Prompts Impact List

March 17, 2003
The Montgomery County Public Schools is facing a potential shortfall of more than $31 million in next year’s budget, based on figures released today, and the sheer size of the “funding gap” has prompted illustrations that the significant loss of funds would mean for a school system that has already cut programs even as enrollment grows to record levels.

“It is important to note that, because the amount is so large, the effective loss of that much funding would mean the elimination of entire programs or services, entire categories of positions, or the elimination of a sizable portion of current classroom personnel, meaning literally hundreds of teachers and instructional specialists,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, in a report to the Board of Education.

“Such cuts would roll back the instructional reforms implemented in the last three years – including class size reductions, professional development programs, and the initiatives implemented as a result of our strategic plan, Our Call to Action,” Dr. Weast said.

The superintendent said the loss of $31 million would be “far-reaching in its impact, creating ripple effects throughout the county as students, parents, teachers, and other staff experience the elimination of resources, programs, personnel, and services, even as our enrollment continues to grow to record levels this summer.”

Based on figures released today on the recommended budget by County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, the school system would receive approximately 98 percent of the budget funding requested for Fiscal Year 2004 by the Board of Education, which Dr. Weast called “a substantial investment.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Weast said the 98-percent funding level is $31 million less than the Board’s request and “an undeniably difficult amount to cut if the County Council does not provide additional funding in May.”

In light of this possibility, the Department of Management, Budget, and Planning has prepared an updated list (at the link below) outlining the “programmatic impact” of a likely $31-million funding gap. The items on the list illustrate the size and scope of what a $31 million shortfall would entail.

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