Montgomery Co. school chief suggests $55 million budget increase for 2020

WASHINGTON — Montgomery County School Superintendent Jack Smith has issued the first look at his budget proposal for the 2020 fiscal year, and it will cost $55 million more than the current $2.6 billion budget.

Under Smith’s plan, the operating budget would come to over $2.65 billion.

Smith said he wants to continue cutting class sizes especially in Title 1 schools, where students have more needs. He worries that a state proposal on education funding from the Kirwan Commission could challenge that goal.

Under one of the commission’s proposals, class sizes would be increased on the theory that an improved curriculum and effective teachers could allow for that.

“If you’re talking about the well-being of students, then knowing your students personally and individually makes a tremendous difference,” Smith said at this week’s school board meeting. “It’s easier to know 24 or even 25 than it is 30. It just is.”

Some of the budget priorities in Smith’s spending plan:

  • Expanding career and technical education programs
  • Increasing the number of half- and full-day kindergarten slots
  • Expanding career-readiness programs
  • Expanding programs that allow high school students to get their associate’s degrees while still in high school
  • Hiring more assistant principals, ESOL counselors and school psychologists

On Dec. 18, the board will discuss the budget in more detail. Public hearings will be held in January, and the final budget recommendation will be submitted for council approval Feb. 12

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