Montgomery County’s interim superintendent Thursday night proposed a larger budget for 2023 as Maryland’s largest school system deals with declining enrollments.
Interim Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Monifa McKnight proposed a $2.931 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2023, which would be a $148.7 million increase or about 5.3% more than the current budget.
“We are far from alone in confronting these enrollment trends, but they are real and are exerting a very real impact on next year’s revenue streams,” McKnight said. “But they do not have any impact on our unwavering commitment and obligation to all of our students.”
This 3.5% increase over the current budget comes even as lowered enrollment is expected to decrease local contribution revenue from Montgomery County by $32,350,978 in 2023, based on Maryland’s funding formula for schools that gives each county the same amount of funding, on a per pupil basis.
Watch McKnight’s budget presentation:
As of Sept. 30, the county had 154,391 students enrolled, which is 2,347 fewer students than were enrolled on the same date in 2020.
But the county’s enrollment has been on a downward trend since the start of the pandemic, with 5,995 students fewer than the pre-pandemic enrollment in 2019.
The school system also faces staffing shortages and proposes $6 million in funding to hire 61 new full time positions.
Around 30% of the budget will come from state funding. For every dollar in the budget, 80 cents goes into the classroom, McKnight said.
Here are some of the investments the county plans to make in 2023, according to the interim superintendent:
- Placing a full-time staff development teacher in every school who will support teachers by bettering their teaching skills and facilitating professional development in the 2022-2023 school year.
- Hiring a full-time reading specialist in every elementary school.
- Allocate funding to staff 61.3 full-time positions and $5,879,007 for school spaces in 2023; the county’s opening a new elementary school in the Gaithersburg Cluster in August.
- Opening a welcome center to accommodate students who are new to the U.S.; the county was the 11th highest receiving county in the nation from 2014-2021.
- Expanding early childhood education with full-day prekindergarten programs.
- Supporting service professionals through strengthening career pathways amid national staffing shortages.
- Employee salaries account for $96,091,034 of the budget.
- Costs from employees and retirees delaying elective surgeries are expected to cost $30 million through the county’s in health care benefits program.
The next step in the budget process is for Montgomery County’s Board of Education to hold public hearings in Jan. 10 and Jan. 18 and work sessions on Jan. 11, Jan. 19 and Jan. 25 before approving the budget request in February. Then the budget is sent to Montgomery County Executive and County Council for consideration. The budget is typically approved in May.
Adjusting the budget is likely to happen based off final revenue figures from the county and state government.