MCPS Committee Warns of Upcoming Financial Woes, Cuts

COVID- 19 has placed a heavy burden on the Montgomery County Public Schools’ budget, one that could lead to a reduction in jobs in the central office.

During the Sept. 21 Financial Management Committee virtual meeting, Board Member Patricia O’Neill said, “It’s grim looking. These numbers could actually be worse at the end of the day.”

O’Neill predicted the upcoming school budget “will probably be the most difficult” one she has worked on since being elected to the board in 1998, including the reductions that had to be made due to the 2007 recession. The district hasn’t totally recovered from that recession, she said. “Our class sizes are still too large.

O’Neill stressed that is important that any cuts do not hurt the students who she expects to need extra help when they return to the actual classroom.

Boardmember Jeanette Dixon said that while the BOE is proud not to have laid off or furloughed anyone, that probably will have to change. “We are overstaffed in the central office,” she said, noting the administration needs to see what jobs can be combined, especially when employees retire.

Added O’Neill, “We are going to have to take a scalpel to every one of these offices.”

Dan Marella, director, fiscal and audit management with the BOE, detailed the upcoming financial picture, which he said will include reductions in funds from the county and state. He predicted there could be a potential $52.6 million reduction during the next 15 months.

The reduction is due in part to $38.4 million in state aid reduction and $27.4 million less from Kirwan funds as well as $34 million loss because student enrollment currently is down 2,400 students. Both the county and the state allocate funds per nunber if students enrolled.

“A lot of what we are dealing with is related directly and indirectly to the pandemic,” he said.

MCPS redirected $58 million in the current budget for distance learning and received $59 million in federal funding under the CARES Act.

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