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Montgomery County schools push for full funding

Montgomery County schools will get $2.64 billion under the fiscal year 2020 spending plan being considered by the county council. But the school system wants an additional $14.4 million to fully fund its budget request of $2.66 billion, and county officials say they’re close to closing that gap.

The school system continues to face added pressures each year, council President Nancy Navarro said at a news conference Wednesday.

“Just in fiscal year 2020, we expect 164,777 students,” Navarro said.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said the county is able to come up with an additional $5 million that’s been freed up as the result of passage of a bill that changes the funding formula for 911 service.

“We’re sure we’re safe in saying there’s going to be $5 million” to go towards closing the $14.4 million budget hole, Elrich said.

But that leaves a $9 million gap remaining.

Montgomery County schools superintendent Jack Smith was asked about that and said, “We’ll be meeting tomorrow; we’ll look at how all of the money fits together, but what’s been made today is a firm commitment that we will be funded next year.”

Navarro added, “It is my hope as we work through the budget that we will have unanimous support” for adding the additional funds.

When asked what the additional $14.4 million would be used for, Smith said, “Most of the new money in the budget this year is about adding additional staff to our focus schools. Those are schools from 35% to 67% poverty.”

The county council has until June 1 to complete its budget process, which includes funding the school system.

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