Monday, March 10, 2014 12:43 AM
Published on: Thursday, March 07, 2013
By Donna Broadway
Rockville—On February 25, the Montgomery County Board of Education approved Superintendent Joshua Starr’s2.7 billion 2014 fiscal year operating budget.
The budget is expected to be ratified before it receives its final vote in June. The Dr. Starr is still in negotiations with teacher unions for employee pay increases. The amended the budget includes a 12.4 million, with six million allocated for pay and 9.9 million over 1.4 billion required under the maintenance of effort law.
The budget also includes allowances for the increase of eligible students in ESOL, free and reduced lunch program, special education aid, and transportation aid. The increase also anticipates 2,300 additional students.
“There is of course much more I would like to do with this budget but we must be reasonable, this budget is the first step in restoring positions that were lost and making investments in strategic areas. Our goal now is to work together as one team to receive full funding from the county executive and county council,” said Starr.
County Executive Leggett issued a statement of support through his spokesman Patrick Lacefield.
“The County Executive continues to be very supportive of our excellent school system and his Recommended Operating Budget to be released on March 15 will reflect that support.”
Michael Duroso, member of the fiscal management committee declined to vote for undisclosed reasons.
“The budget process is a messy one like making sausage. For us, this is our first step in the process that won’t end until June and I don’t think there is anyone sitting here who is 100% in love with this budget I think there are concerns about the fight we are going to have to wage to make it happen but we all believe it is truly necessary both compensation and restoration are needs we are hungry for,” said board member Dr. Judith Docca.
John Mannes, student member of the BOE and senior at Northwest High School, spoke from a student perspective. Student representatives are not given a vote on board issues. Mannes voted on the written record but under the guidelines, was not allowed to vote on the budget approval.
“Being able to witness the school system in the way a lot of elected officials haven’t been able to over the course of the last couple months, visiting schools, and seeing what it takes to make a difference in a student’s life. The real meat of where things are is not only with the restorations and enhancements as well as moving forward with the unions across the county and though there are politics behind this budget and where will expect to see come down at the end of the year, it will finally come down to that we are here to educate students and students are here to learn,” said Mannes.
The budget was sent to County Executive Leggett and the County Council on March 1. The council will not vote on the budget until late May.