A Board of Education meeting on Apr. 29 discussed funding for MCPS. During this board meeting Nicky Diamond, Chief Financial Officer, answered questions about the current budget.
Factors go into determining how the MCPS budget could expand or decrease such as enrollment growth, which has increased by over 21,000 since 2010, growing needs for students and techniques that improve learning and teaching throughout the county. Over $1.7 billion of the MCPS budget comes from local county taxes and other local dollars, which accounts for about 65 percent of the budget. Over $700 million comes from the state which accounts for 27 percent of the budget.
For the current school year, MCPS has received an additional $25.9 million from the county under the MOE law. MOE is the minimum the state requires the county to provide, but it is not sufficient to cover the increasing costs of MCPS. MOE does not take into account the increased cost of basic utilities such as textbooks.
One item on the agenda that students hope for are the improved water fountains that are to replace the old water fountains that have contaminants. In late Aug 2018, there was a county wide review of school water that found elevated levels of lead in 86 schools. More than half of the water fountains with elevated lead had been available to students.
These improved water stations allow water bottles to be filled as if it were a soda dispenser. According to the Board of Education, the improved water stations were put forward in the capital budget, but were put on hold by the county executive. The school already has a few of these improved water stations but all water fountains still have yet to be replaced. These water stations have been delayed multiple times. Students are disappointed they still haven’t arrived, including freshman Josh Euler who said, “Filling water bottles with a regular fountain is much more difficult and water gets everywhere.”
Rebecca Smondrowski, a member of the Board of Education explained that she wanted to create a new program to further involve parents and families in their children’s education in order to reduce the achievement gaps between students so everyone can have the highest degree of success.
Another item on the agenda was an app to alert and communicate with parents in MCPS for emergencies or important events. One of its features that will be implemented into the app is the texting system that MCPS has active currently that can give reminders about emergency closings and delayed openings. The MCPS communication app is set to be ready by the beginning of the next school year.