Despite budget crisis, Montgomery Co. Public Schools proposes increase

WASHINGTON — Knowing that Montgomery County is currently facing a projected $120 million budget shortfall, the public school system’s superintendent has proposed an increase in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith announced his $2.59 billion budget for the 2019 fiscal year at Rockville High School Tuesday evening. His proposed operating budget is about $67 million more than the previous year’s budget.

He said the money will be spent on enrollment and growth. MCPS is expecting 2,472 new students in grades K-12 throughout the system next year.

“We’ll have a new elementary school right down, not too far from here in Rockville, and a new grade at Silver Creek Middle School,” Smith said. “We’ll have continuing salary and insurance and employee benefit costs.”

Several weeks ago Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett asked county departments, including the school system, to slash budgets by 2 percent because of the projected tax-revenue shortfall.

Smith said while the budget deficit is a problem for everyone in the county, there are plans to save money throughout the system.

“We’ll have to work with the board and the county government and talk about it. We’re not going to save it by freezing classrooms and not hiring teachers,” he said. “That’s not right to freeze a classroom.”

He said his top priority with the new recommended operating budget is to maintain the high levels of achievement of many of their students and eliminate the opportunity gaps that affect lower-income students.

“MCPS cannot and will not be satisfied until we have eliminated disparities in opportunities and performance among our student populations. I look forward to working with the Members of the Board of Education on this fiscal year 2019,” Smith said.

The school system is looking for community feedback on the new school system’s budget.

WTOP’s Liz Anderson contributed to this report. 

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