Education Committee Recommends Full Funding Plan for MCPS (PHOTOS)

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County and schools officials gathered for a press conference after today’s Education Committee meeting.

The Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee today (May 12) unanimously recommended that the Council adopt a plan that will provide Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) with its full funding request for the Fiscal Year 2015 operating budget and also for the MCPS Technology Modernization project.

The Education Committee, which is chaired by Council President Craig Rice and includes Councilmembers Phil Andrews and Cherri Branson, voted 3-0 to recommend that the Council approve the plan. The recommendation goes to the full Council for consideration on Wednesday, May 14. The Council is scheduled to reach a tentative agreement on the overall budget on Thursday, May 15, and is scheduled to formally adopt the budget on May 22. The budget will go into effect on July 1.

The recommended plan provides resources for the full amount of the Board’s requested FY15 operating budget. It also provides the appropriate local resources to reflect the State’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement, the State’s pension shift requirement and the full amount of the MCPS general fund balance. The plan additionally funds the Board of Education’s requested increase for its Technology Modernization project in FY15 and FY16 through a combination of local funds and Federal E-rate funds.

The plan primarily achieves its objectives through a combination of drawing down the large fund balance in the MCPS Retiree Group Insurance Fund and the Other Post Employment Fund (OPEB) trust and by reallocating funds within the MCPS budget request from Category 12 (Fixed Charges) to educational priorities.

The plan funds the Board of Education’s operating budget request by providing $11.2 million from the existing MCPS general fund balance; $13.3 million from the excess MCPS Retired Employees Group Insurance fund balance; and $27.2 million applied from funds from the MCPS OPEB Trust to retired employees pay-as-you-go group insurance costs.

“I am pleased to announce a funding plan for the FY 2015 MCPS operating budget that fully meets the Board of Education’s request,” said Council President Rice. “The Council has developed this plan in collaboration with Board President Kauffman, Vice President O’Neill, Superintendent Starr and the County Executive.

“All of us are committed to investing in our students, focusing on the achievement gap and maintaining MCPS’ position as a national leader in education.  This plan provides the needed resources.

“The plan fully funds the Board’s FY 2015 educational request by repurposing excess reserves for current retiree health benefits, while protecting support for future benefits in the Council’s FY 2015-2020 Fiscal Plan. In addition, the plan fully funds the Board’s FY 2015 Technology Modernization request in both the operating and the capital budgets.

“This plan achieves multiple goals by making judicious use of both new County resources and excess reserves.  Going forward, we will work with MCPS, as we do every year, to address future enrollment growth, negotiated agreements, and strategic investments to improve student achievement.”

Montgomery County Board of Education President Phil Kauffman, Vice President Patricia O’Neill and Superintendent Joshua P. Starr have agreed to the proposal from County Council President Craig Rice that funds the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget. The Council plans to use reserve funds from MCPS health care trust funds to make up the shortfall in funding for school system operations next year.

The Montgomery County Board of Education had requested a $2.32 billion Operating Budget, which represents a 4 percent increase over this year. The budget will allow MCPS to manage its continued growth, narrow achievement gaps, and prepare students to meet higher expectations. The Board is scheduled to approve a final FY 2015 budget in June.

Below are statements from Board President Kauffman and Superintendent Starr regarding the agreement announced Monday:

Board President Phil Kauffman

“We appreciate the Council’s commitment to Montgomery County Public Schools in providing the resources we need to fund our Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget request. We know that it is always challenging to meet the needs of our community when resources are strained.

“My Board colleagues and I constantly work to balance fiscal responsibility with the growing needs of our school system. This solution enables us to provide the resources our system needs and allows us to begin the conversations about how we plan future budgets. Our council colleagues have assured us that they will work to identify sources of revenue to replace the $40 million from our health care trust funds in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

“In addition to this one-time source of funding from our trust funds, the entire $38 million of fund balance in the MCPS General Fund is being used to fund the FY 2015 Operating Budget. To the extent that this funding source is not replaced by the County Council with other revenue sources or MCPS is not able to generate additional surpluses, MCPS would face a significant deficit that would have to be addressed through substantial budget cuts.

“The MCPS FY 2016 Operating Budget also will require additional resources to meet our known commitments. It is estimated that the funding needed next year will be about $135 million above the Maintenance of Effort funding level to replace the almost $78 million of one-time funding from fund balances in the General Fund and health trust funds and also address growth, strategic enhancements, and negotiated agreements.

Under Council President Craig Rice’s leadership, the Council, the Superintendent and the Board are working closely together and building the trust necessary to meaningfully collaborate on challenging issues. The Council knows that MCPS is critical to our community’s future and I know they want to continue to provide the investments necessary to make sure our children have every opportunity to succeed.”

Superintendent Joshua Starr

“I appreciate the County Council President finding a way to fund the Board of Education’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 and his commitment to ensuring that Montgomery County Public Schools has the resources it needs to serve all students in future years.

“As Superintendent, I have an obligation to advocate for the resources our students need while honoring my commitment to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. This budget is part of a multiyear effort that allows us to manage our growth, engage in new strategies to narrow the achievement gap, and prepare our staff and students for a new curriculum, new tests, and higher expectations.

“As our district grows and changes, we must invest consistently, strategically, and collaboratively to meet the individual needs of our students today and in the future. I look forward to working with the County Executive and the County Council on how we can fund MCPS in future years to ensure our students are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the 21st century.”

 

 
Related:

Education Committee Recommends Full Funding Plan for MCPS (PHOTOS)

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The Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee today (May 12) unanimously recommended that the Council adopt a plan that will provide Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) with its full funding request for the Fiscal Year 2015 operating budget and also for the MCPS Technology Modernization project. The Education Committee, which is chaired by Council President Craig […]

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