Montgomery Co. schools eyeing layoffs and class size increases

School principals, teachers, staff and families of Montgomery County students are contemplating the impacts of budget cuts that will result in growing class sizes in the fall.

In an email to families on Tuesday, Montgomery County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Monique Felder said class size will increase by one student per class across all grades in the fall. Felder said it’s a result of the Montgomery County Council providing the school system an operating budget that falls $30 million short.

“It’s creating a lot of anxiety, and, frankly, some indignation on the part of teachers who are already overburdened because of a lack of staffing and because of the increasing needs of our students,” said Jennifer Martin, president of the Montgomery County Education Association, the union which represents teachers and school staff.

“It doesn’t sound like much when you say ‘well, class sizes are going to increase on average by one.’ But the reality of that is that it generally means that you’re going to be losing a teacher or more,” Martin added.

In her message to the community, Felder said that it’s important to note that school counselors, school psychologists and pupil personnel workers are not subject to cutbacks, but 21 central service employees will lose jobs and the school system is looking for further reductions among its contractors.

The changes will produce staffing reductions at schools and involuntary transfer of some teachers.

In a May 31 memo to principals, Peter Moran, chief of schools for MCPS, wrote: “All directors and associates will be personally contacting each school that has been identified for a staffing reduction or reassignment to discuss its implications as well as support with the identification of staff members that will be involuntarily transferred.”

Martin said that families and students will feel the pinch of the cut backs.

“It is definitely a hardship to families and children. It’s not just a question of increased workload for teachers, it means less in services for students who need our support, and less opportunity for parents to be involved with the teachers who are serving their children, because of the greater workload that those teachers are facing and the limited time that they have,” said Martin.

The Board of Education will take final action on the reduced operating budget by June 11, while the teachers’ union president is urging the county council to find enough money to fully fund the schools.

“We are calling on the county council, please find us the money that’s needed so that these Draconian measures do not have to go through,” said Martin.

WTOP’s Scott Gelman contributed to this report.

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Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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