MCR Public Relation's Director Robert Wachen testifying at the County Council Fiscal 2019 Operating Budget Public Hearing alongside many other students. Click here to view the full testimony.
It's been nearly three months since the MCR Budget Blackout, where students from all over the county gathered to testify in front of the Board of Education (BOE). Since then, board members have met several times to discuss the official 2019 operating budget plan.
Back at the end of February, the Budget panel of BOE voted unanimously in favor of the 2019 fiscal plan. As compared to last year, the proposal increased spending by around 2.9 percent, with the addition of new schools within the county. The budget holds an increase of nearly $73 million dollars.
Superintendent Jack Smith wanted a budget that expanded opportunities for career learning and dual-language programs throughout schools in the county.
This fiscal plan also proposes increased spending for programs that focus more on creation of community partnerships, broadening access to literacy and math initiatives, and adding "computer coding" as an elective course.
Yet, despite the unanimous support, a multitude of concerns were expressed throughout the process. Concerns ranged from relying more on carryover savings from the prior year to issues on decentralizing services to make them more accessible to the classroom.
Furthermore, many changes have been made throughout the proposal timeline. Smith initiated cutting spending in central services, to which many of the board members have expressed support to.
Whilst reviewing the budget, the board also decided to limit their cuts on supervisor positions. They decided to keep three of the special education cluster supervisor positions, that were originally planned to be changed to instructional specialist positions.
However, additions of a manager position to support Linkage to Learning, a consulting teacher position, and a content specialist position were inputted into the new budget plan.
Next on the path to passing the official budget would be through the county council. The whole month of April Were consisted of operating budget hearings by the Council were scheduled.
The official Operating Budget Hearing was held on the week of April 12th, where many students once again testified in front of the board about their concerns.
Present at the Operating Budget Hearing included students from all over the county, from MCR's own officers and board members to down-county school representatives expressing their views.
Current Student Member of the Board of Education, or SMOB, Matt Post was in attendance with his own SMOB Advisory Council (SAC), many of whom testified throughout the night.
However, not only were students in attendance, but parents and County organizations were also present to share their views on the cuts and new additions.
Board of Education members are hopeful of the approval form the Council. And on June 1st, the Council will officially make adjustments to the bill and take final action.
Written by Eileen Zhang
Photo Courtesy of MCPS
Published by PR Department