Board of Education Adopts $2.39 Billion FY 2016 Operating Budget
The Montgomery County Board of Education unanimously adopted a $2.39 billion operating budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, which includes a $93.4 million increase in spending—about 4.1 percent—that will be needed by the district to keep up with its growing enrollment and manage ongoing operational, salary, and benefit costs. The Board deferred most planned budget enhancements due to a $10 million cut in state funding.
The Board’s budget request also assumes that the county will provide $23.3 million needed to restore one-time funding used last year to fund the current FY 2015 budget.
The budget passed by the Board is $10.2 million lower than the superintendent’s recommendation in December, due to lower-than-expected funding from the state of Maryland. State education funding for MCPS is more than $10 million lower than anticipated in Governor Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr.’s recommended budget for the next fiscal year.
While state funding levels are clearer than they were in December, Montgomery County’s fiscal outlook remains unsettled. County Executive Isiah Leggett has indicated the county is facing a projected budget shortfall that will impact funding levels for MCPS and all departments and agencies that the county funds.
The Board’s budget request already includes reductions and efficiencies beyond what was included in the superintendent’s recommendation. This includes the elimination of 29 positions, including 17 building service workers who clean and maintain schools. Expenditure and hiring restrictions imposed in November have nearly doubled the district’s projected end-of-year fund balance to about $33 million, which will be used to help fund the FY 2016 budget.
Also, the Board’s budget request eliminates more than two-thirds of the $8.2 million in strategic priority enhancements the superintendent included in his December recommendation. (Read the Board of Education report.)
However, MCPS must begin planning staff allocations for next school year in early March, and it is not expected that the county’s financial picture will be any clearer by that time. Therefore, MCPS will not allocate to schools nearly 350 positions, mostly teachers, which are included in the budget. This could result in class size increases in most schools.
The Board will submit its budget request to the Montgomery County executive and Montgomery County Council by March 1. County Executive Leggett is expected to release his budget recommendation by March 15. The Montgomery County Council will hold public hearings on the county budget in April before passing a final budget in May.