County Committees Meet with School Officials
The Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee and its Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee will meet jointly with members of the County Board of Education and School Superintendent Joshua Starr at 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22. The worksession will focus on the findings of the Office of Legislative Oversight’s (OLO) report analyzing the impact on the County of the changes made by the Maryland General Assembly to the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) law for public school systems and Board of Education compensation decisions that will significantly impact County budgets in upcoming years.
The meeting of the Education Committee, which is chaired by Valerie Ervin and includes Councilmembers Phil Andrews and Craig Rice, and the GO Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Navarro and includes Councilmembers Ervin and Hans Riemer, will take place in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov.
Current County projections for Fiscal Year 2014 anticipate a 5.2 percent reduction in resources available to non-education functions such as public safety, transportation, health and human services, libraries and recreation. The new MOE law puts the County in a precarious budget situation. Absent increased revenue, raising the local contribution to MCPS above the MOE requirement would necessitate even deeper offsetting reductions in other agency budgets in FY14 and potentially in FY15 and beyond. The OLO report identifies a range of choices that were available to the Board of Education as it built its FY13 Operating Budget.
“There is a misconception that the Council has authority to decide things like class size, retaining ESOL teachers, paraeducators, instrumental music teachers and maintaining certain educational programs,” said Councilmember Ervin. “The Board of Education makes these choices and decides what the priorities will be for the budget year. The purpose of this discussion is to review the choices that were made and to discuss how the Board of Education plans to fit its priorities under the budget constraints imposed by the new Maintenance of Effort Law.”
Council Vice President Navarro said: “As a former Board of Education member, I understand the difficult choices the School Board confronts every day. This joint committee session seeks to examine how these choices impact the overall fiscal condition of our county. Without the leadership of this County Council, we would not have been able to maintain our Triple-A bond rating during these uncertain economic times.”
The OLO report continues the Council’s ongoing work to preserve fiscal stability for the County over the long-term. In 2010, Vice President Navarro, whose Government Operations Committee oversees County fiscal policy, fiercely advocated for the Council’s approval of a six-year fiscal plan for the first time, as proposed by former Council President Nancy Floreen. The same year, OLO released a report titled “Achieving a Structurally Balanced Budget in Montgomery County.”
In 2011, Councilmember Ervin, who was then serving as Council President, spearheaded efforts to contain costs, and the Council unanimously voted to hit the reset button on school spending.
In spring 2012, the Board of Education elected to allocate available resources to award two pay increases in FY13. Similarly, the Board did not revisit its FY11 decision to increase class size by one student. As the OLO report states: “The Board’s decision to increase salaries raised base costs, thereby creating a recurring obligation in FY14 and beyond.”
For the full version of the report, follow the links below to:
- Powerpoint presentation to the Council: http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/olo/reports/pdf/FiscalPlanning_MOE.pdf
- Companion document to the presentation: http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/council/olo/reports/pdf/2013-1.pdf
- Video of October 16 Council briefing: http://montgomerycountymd.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=3912 (click on Agenda Item 4)
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