MCPS: Superintendent Recommends $3.2 Billion Operating Budget

Per MCPS: Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight has recommended a $3.15 billion Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2024. It continues the district’s focus on preparing all students to thrive in their futures. The funding provides a high-quality education for growing student enrollment, for continuing recovery from lost learning time due to the pandemic, for new research-based innovative approaches for teaching and learning, for competitive salaries for staff, and for increased costs of goods and services.

Released Monday, Dec. 19, Dr. McKnight’s budget recommendation represents a $235.4 millionincrease—8%—over the current budget (FY 2023) and $267 million above the minimum amount required by the maintenance of effort law. The recommended increase includes more than $40 million realized in savings.

The investments outlined in this recommended operating budget will reflect the continuing work of the Antiracist Audit, which aims to serve the needs of all students no matter their race, background or socio-economic status.

“I urge the Board of Education to carefully consider my recommendation and work with 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 Student Enrollment
Following two years of student enrollment decline, the MCPS unofficial enrollment for Sept. 30, 2022, will reflect an increase of more than 2,000 students attending MCPS, totaling 160,554. MCPS projects another increase of nearly 2,000 students for the 2023-2024 school year. This growth will require an extra 238 full-time positions costing $14.9 million.

Investment Highlights from the Recommended FY 2024 Operating Budget

  1. Establish Two Additional Innovative Calendar Schools
    A significant focus in this budget recommendation is the value of early childhood education and foundational skills building of math and literacy. The innovative calendar or “year-round” schools have an additional 30 days of learning. Increased instructional time translates to increased engagement and more robust learning. ($2.5 million)
  2. Add Seats in PreK and Early Childhood Education
    The budget funds an increase for providing additional inclusive classrooms for prekindergarten children with disabilities. Early childhood programs are vital to student success. ($2.1 million)
  3. Increase Dual-Language Programs in Three Schools
    The recommended operating budget proposes an expansion of dual-language immersion to three schools—two in Spanish and one in Chinese. At these schools, teaching and learning will occur in both languages. Students will be reading, writing and doing math in English and Spanish or Chinese. Students with instruction in two languages see some of the highest academic gains. ($591,000)
  4. Expand College Tracks Advisory Program
    The budget expands the College Tracks advising network to five more schools through a $1.8 million investment. This will help more students have the necessary support as they navigate the college application process. ($1.8 million)
  5. Remove All Costs for AP and IB Exams
    The budget also recommends that all tuition, fees and assessments will be free for students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. This investment will ensure that cost is not a barrier to these advanced programs. ($3.4 million)
  6. Introduce School Bus Tracking Software
    For MCPS families, the budget recommends an app that allows users to track their child’s school bus in real time. ($1.5 million)
  7. Competitive Salaries to Drive Recruitment and Retention of Workers
    In an effort to continue to attract and retain high-quality and diverse teachers and staff, a significant portion of the funding increase is for the cost of salaries for our more than 24,000 employees based on the negotiated agreements reached for FY 2023 and ongoing negotiations for FY 2024. ($119.2 million)
  8. Literacy Resources for the County’s Youngest Children
    MCPS will increase partnerships with hospitals, daycares and outreach centers to provide more learning opportunities for the county’s youngest children. Early childhood literacy skills help to ensure children are academically ready when they enter kindergarten. ($100,000)

Timeline
The Montgomery County Board of Education will hold public hearings on the budget on Wednesday, Jan. 11, and Tuesday, Jan. 17. The Board also will hold three budget work sessions on Thursday, Jan. 12, Wednesday, Jan. 18, and Tuesday, Jan. 24, before tentatively approving an operating budget on Feb. 7, 2023.

After the Board of Education approves an operating budget for FY 2024, it will be sent to the Montgomery County Executive and County Council for consideration. The County Council will approve its final FY 2024 Operating Budget on May 25, 2023.

It is essential to keep in mind that this budget represents a recommendation offered during a 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 adopts a final FY 2024 Operating Budget on June 6, 2023.

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