Interim Superintendent Recommends $2.93 Billion Operating Budget
MCPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight has recommended a $2.931 billion Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2023, allowing the district to deepen its focus on addressing disruptions to learning that have resulted from the pandemic and promoting student well-being, while also making strategic investments to support staff development, expand early childhood programs, support newly arriving students, and prepare all students for their futures.
Dr. McKnight’s budget recommendation, released on Dec. 16, 2021, represents a total $148.7 million increase—about 5.3 percent—over the current budget (FY 2022). Of the total recommended increase, $131.3 million will be funded through an increase above the minimum level required by the state’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) law.
“I urge the Board of Education to carefully consider my recommendation and work with our county leaders to pass a budget that will provide our students today, and in the future, with the skills, knowledge and critical wraparound supports they need to be successful,” Dr. McKnight said.
Effect of Lower Student Enrollment
The official Kindergarten through Grade 12 MCPS enrollment used for determining funding from the county and the state as of Sept. 30, 2021, was 154,391 students, which is 2,347 fewer students than were enrolled on the same date one year ago and 5,995 students fewer than the pre-pandemic enrollment of 160,386 as of Sept. 30, 2019. Based on MOE, these changes would result in a decrease of $32,350,978 in local contribution revenue from Montgomery County in FY 2023.
Important Investments Recommended in FY 2023 Operating Budget
- Full-Time Staff Development Teacher in Every School
The recommended operating budget proposes that all MCPS schools have a full-time staff development teacher for the 2022–2023 school year. Staff development teachers work with teachers to enhance their content knowledge, improve teaching skills and facilitate professional development.
- Full-Time Reading Specialists in Every Elementary School
The recommended budget also provides a full-time reading specialist teacher for every elementary school. Reading specialists coordinate schoolwide reading programs; work in classrooms to reduce the size of guided reading groups; assist students one-on-one; and develop individualized literacy support systems. They also meet with students outside the classrooms to extend their amount of tailored reading instruction.
- Critical Staffing in Support of New Schools and Additional School Space
A total of 61.3 full-time positions and $5,879,007 are proposed for new schools and additional school space in FY 2023. MCPS will open a new elementary school in the Gaithersburg Cluster in August 2022.
- Welcoming Newcomer Students to MCPS
McKnight’s recommended budget also proposes to establish a Welcome Center in the MCPS Office of Student and Family Support and Engagement. In the past several years, Montgomery County has received thousands of students who are new to the United States, including many who are seeking asylum. Establishing a Welcome Center will help ensure our families feel supported as they begin their relationship with MCPS.
- Expanding Early Childhood Learning Opportunities
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future advances a goal of “expanding access to high-quality, full-day prekindergarten programs for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds” through public school and the private sector options. The recommended budget will expand full-day prekindergarten classrooms at Clearspring and New Hampshire Estates elementary schools, and include pre-kindergarten opportunities at the new elementary school that will open in the Gaithersburg cluster at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.
- Strengthening Career Pathways for Employees
The budget recommends important investments in opportunities for MCPS employees, particularly supporting services professionals, to move into new positions through the career pathways program. This initiative is particularly important as the district continues to confront national staff shortages that pose difficulties to filling many key positions.
- Employee Salaries
The FY 2023 budget includes $96,091,034 for employee continuing salaries.
- Health Care Costs
As a result of the pandemic and its accompanying stay-at-home orders, many elective health care procedures were deferred over the last 21 months. MCPS’ consultant, AON, projects that costs associated with employees seeking any deferred health care will require an investment of $30 million in the MCPS Health Benefits Program for both employees and retirees for FY 2023.
The Montgomery County Board of Education will hold public hearings on the budget on Monday, Jan. 10 and Tuesday, Jan. 18. The Board also will hold three budget work sessions on Tuesday, Jan. 11, Wednesday, Jan. 19 and Tuesday, Jan. 25, before tentatively approving an operating budget request in February 2022.
After the Board of Education approves an operating budget for FY 2023, it will be sent to the Montgomery County Executive and County Council for consideration. The County Council will approve its final FY 2023 Operating Budget, typically in May.
It is important to keep in mind that this budget represents a recommendation offered during a particular snapshot in time. Given the uncertainties in final revenue from the county and state government, adjustments will likely be made before the Board of Education tentatively adopts the FY 2023 Operating Budget in February 2022.
In case you missed it, you can watch the operating budget presentation here.