Update on the County Schools Budget

When last we looked, County Executive Ike Leggett had evaluated the MCPS budget request, and recommended funding 99% of the budget request ($1.97 billion out of $1.99 billion requested). As a reminder, that’s a 6.3% increase over least year.

That increase is not enough for the unions, however. Hundreds of school employees rallied in front of the council office building demanding a greater increase in funding. The Education Committee of the Council, ever sensitive to that pressure, announced this week that they’ve found a way to fund almost every penny that MCPS has requested. The plan calls for pulling some money out of reserve funds, and some money out of the capital budget.

Drawing money out of the capital budget to pay for operating funds is dangerous. Capital expenditures are one-time payments, whereas operating expenditures continue every year. By pulling money out of the capital budget, the committee is essentially committing the county to add more funding in future years. In addition, they are forgoing the original planned capital expenditure. It’s like saying, “OK, I can’t afford the mortgage on this new house. So instead of putting a new roof on, I’ll use that money for the mortgage. After those savings are gone, I don’t know what I’ll use to pay the mortgage next year.” And the house still needs a new roof.

But the county council is doing more than postponing fixing a roof, or refurbishing a school gym somewhere. They are establishing a dangerous principle: unlike any other entity of government that asks for funds, MCPS is to be entitled to everything it asks for, every year. No request can be denied, lest there be more demonstrations by school employees. The council is supposed to be voting on a straw budget today; we’ll see whether they’ve decided to be fiscally irresponsible and write a blank check. If so, it would seem that MCPS is being given power of the purse – your purse, in case you need reminding.

Explore posts in the same categories: Budget and Taxes, Education

One Comment on “Update on the County Schools Budget”

  1. Peter Says:

    I just found out about your blog, and this is my first time commenting. It seems like it’s pretty new.

    I think that teachers in general are underpaid. I’m not fully aware of the situation in Montgomery. I will tell you, however that I was disappointed when the candidate who made the promise of the biggest pay increases for teachers, who was running for the House of Delegates (Jeff Waldstreicher-District 18) won against one of my neighbors who was also running (Dan Farrington), who promised less of an increase.

    As you know, Governor Ehrlich screwed up the election; Dan might have come in third and been elected if it weren’t for these things.

    Sadly, Dan and his family subsequently decided to move out of the neighborhood where I live.

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