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April 13, 2015

Interim Superintendent announces budget cuts for the 2015-2016 fiscal year

by Amalia Chiapperino, Online Managing Editor
On March 9, Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) interim superintendent Larry Bowers announced plans for countywide budget cuts in preparation for an expected decline in state aid and funding. The cuts include an estimated 370 staffing positions, 150 of which are teaching positions.

The announcement was made in response to a 2.39 billion operating budget request for the 2015-2016 Fiscal Year that the Board of Education unanimously adopted in late February. Among the costs factored into the budget request is a 93.4 million dollar increase in spending , for so the county to can adjust to a recent influx in student enrollment. Due to cuts in state funding, the request is still 10 million dollars lower than what former superintendent Joshua Starr recommended in December.

In a letter released in February and addressed to his colleagues, Bowers disclosed fiscal concerns and their possible ramifications on the MCPS budget. "The Board and I remain concerned about the fiscal situation in our county and state and the impact it will have on our budget. We are preparing for further cuts, but we wonít know how deep those reductions will be until May," he said.

The projected staff cuts were sent to principals across the county on March 6. Though many budget decisions are not final at Blair, media specialist Andrea Lamphier said that the Blair media center will definitely be impacted. "Iím not sure what the entire anticipated outcome is. But right now one full time position is slated to be eliminated, and thereís a potential for cuts even deeper than that,"", she said.

The cuts are also expected to cause a countywide increase in class sizes affecting elementary, middle and high schools. According to a href="http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/publicinfo/community/school-year-2014-2015/making-difficult-choices.html">message that Bowers wrote, average class sizes are expected to increase by one student for elementary schools, and by 0.5 at middle and high schools that have a high number of students on free and reduced meal plans.

Additionally, Bowers stated in his message that 40 central services positions in the county will be cut from the budget as well, creating 27 million dollars in expected savings.

The operating budget request adopted by the Board of Education is pending approval from the county council, but Bowers said the budget cuts are being made in preparation for the possibly that the county council does not fully fund the request. "While I am hopeful that the County Council will be able to fully fund our budget, or at least minimize cuts, we must prepare for the possibility that we will have to make additional reductions to our budget request," Bowers said.



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