Management, Budget, and Planning → FY 2012 Budget Questions and Answers

FY 2012 Budget Questions and Answers

During the budget process, questions asked by members of the Board of Education are compiled. Appropriate staff from Montgomery County Public Schools answer the questions as soon as all information has been gathered to respond in full. The questions and answers are also made available to the public on this website.

Answers to other budget questions may be requested from the Department of Management, Budget, and Planning through our ask a budget question form.

1. How much does a one day furlough (for all employees) save MCPS? How much does a one day furlough save if SEIU members are exempted?

Budget page reference: N/A

A one day furlough for all employees in FY 2012 will save MCPS a total of $7.17 million. This amount includes both position and non-position salaries and all associated employee benefits.

If SEIU Local 500 members are exempted from the furlough, this would reduce the above savings amount by $1.76 million.

2. How many MCPS employees receive car allowances? Total cost? How much does MCPS spend in employee mileage a year?

Budget page reference: N/A

There are 22 MCPS employees currently receiving a car allowance. The amount budgeted for car allowances in FY 2012 is $171,600. The amount budgeted in FY 2012 for both local travel and mileage reimbursement is $1,944,306. The mileage reimbursement rate effective January 2011 as issued by the Internal Revenue Service is $.51 per mile.

3.What is the budget for middle school athletics? Of that amount, how much is recovered through extracurricular activity fees? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate any of these sports?

Budget page reference: 1-13

The middle school interscholastic athletics budget for FY 2012 is $726,870. Of that amount, $434,112 is designated for coaching stipends. The remaining $292,758 is budgeted for other program expenses, including security, transportation, officials, uniforms, equipment, and supplies. There are seven teams per middle school, including boys’ and girls’ softball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, and coed cross country.

The student activity fee covers participation in athletics as well as other extracurricular activities. The activity fee is currently set at $30 per year per student, although approximately 6 percent of the students pay a reduced rate of $15 based on their financial status. A total of 4,577 students were listed on middle school athletic rosters during FY 2010. Of this number, approximately 35 percent or 1,602 students played more than one sport. Because students only pay a fee one time, approximately 2,975 individual students paid fees. Assuming 6 percent pay the reduced fee, the amount of fee revenue supporting middle school athletics is $86,575.

Among the issues associated with eliminating middle school athletics is that students will be deprived of important benefits and experiences related to their current and future success. Numerous studies demonstrate the benefits and positive effects of athletic participation on the educational achievement and total development of the student.

Research dictates that students who participate in interscholastic athletics have superior grade point averages, superior attendance rates, higher standardized test scores, greater educational aspirations, better health habits, and feelings of connection and belonging compared to those who do not participate. Studies further demonstrate that athletic participation is associated with fewer discipline referrals, lower dropout rates, and lower levels of drug and alcohol abuse. Participation in interscholastic athletics provides young students with a sense of belonging and allows them to develop positive relationships and support groups that they would not have otherwise developed.

4. What is the budget for each sport for junior varsity athletics? What is the budget for each sport for varsity athletics? Of those amounts, how much is recovered through extracurricular activity fees? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate any of these sports?

Budget page reference: 1-21

Funds are not budgeted separately for junior varsity and varsity sports or for individual sports. There is $7,094,574 budgeted for high school interscholastic athletics. Of this amount, approximately $5,474,574 is budgeted for coaching stipends including employee benefits. There is $1,620,000 budgeted and allocated to schools to provide for transportation, equipment, uniforms, security, field maintenance, awards, medical supplies, custodial costs, and miscellaneous expenses. The student activity fee revenue that is collected centrally offsets some of this cost.

The student activity fee covers participation in athletics as well as other extracurricular activities. The activity fee is currently set at $30 per year per student, although approximately 6 percent of the students pay a reduced rate of $15 based on their financial status. A total of 22,076 students were listed on high school athletic rosters during FY 2010. Of this number, approximately 35 percent or 7,727 students played more than one sport. Because students only pay a fee one time, approximately 14,349 individual students paid fees. Assuming 6 percent pay the reduced fee, the amount of fee revenue supporting high school athletics is $417,550.

However, the $1,620,000 budgeted for operating costs only covers approximately 47 percent of the actual costs. There is an estimated $1,826,808 of costs that are incurred by the schools that are offset by their gate receipts and student parking receipts. The chart below summarizes the budgeted expenditures and revenues.

Budgeted Expenditures 
Coaching Stipends & Related Benefits $5,474,574
Operating Costs 1,620,000
Total $7,094,574
Budgeted Revenue  
(Estimated) from Student Activity Fees $417,550
Costs Offset by Gate Receipts/Student Parking Fees $1,826,808

The chart below summarizes amount budgeted for coaching stipends by sport. 

Sport
Baseball $186,200
Basketball 429,100
Cheerleading 411,250
Cross Country 169,750
Diving 144,200
Field Hockey 158,900
Football 637,000
Golf 66,500
Gymnastics 45,850
Indoor Track 163,450
Lacrosse 297,500
Pole Vault 119,000
Pompoms 85,750
Soccer 335,300
Softball 186,200
Swim/Dive 75,250
Tennis 159,950
Track & Field 364,350
Volleyball 326,550
Weight Training 31,500
Wrestling 226,800
Subtotal  4,620,350 
 
AD/Managers 304,500
First Aid 114,800
Scorers 29,400
Subtotal  448,700 
 
Employee Benefits  405,524 
 
Grand Total  $5,474,574  

Among the issues associated with eliminating junior varsity and varsity sports is that students will be deprived of important benefits and experiences related to their current and future success. Numerous studies demonstrate the benefits and positive effects of athletic participation on the educational achievement and total development of the student.

Research indicates that students who participate in interscholastic athletics have superior grade point averages, superior attendance rates, higher standardized test scores, greater educational aspirations, better health habits, and feelings of connection and belonging compared to those who do not participate. Studies further demonstrate that athletic participation is associated with fewer discipline referrals, lower dropout rates, and lower levels of drug and alcohol abuse. Participation in interscholastic athletics provides young students with a sense of belonging and allows them to develop positive relationships and support groups that they would not have otherwise developed.

5. Are there any savings the Board could consider relative to athletics that would have minimal impact on students?

Budget page reference: 1–13, 21

There are several options the Board of Education could consider to reduce costs for athletics that would have varying levels of impact on students. These include options include:

  • Reduce the number of coaches for football and track. Currently, football teams have five paid assistants and track has three paid assistants. The reduction would be to reduce football assistants to four and track to two. This reduction would impact the ratio of athletes to coaches and the amount of supervision available during games/meets and practices.
  • Reduce funding for Junior Varsity (JV) sports by reducing the number of games each team plays by two to four games per team. This reduction would reduce the stipends paid to coaches. The season for students would be shorter, resulting in fewer practices and fewer games.
  • Reduce funding for cheerleading by eliminating JV cheerleading and spring cheerleading. Cheerleading programs at each school would continue as varsity programs during the fall and the winter. Schools would have the option of having larger teams to allow for additional athletes to participate. However, rather than having two coaches (one JV and one varsity), there would only be one coach per school.
  • Reduce funding for preseason practices, during-the-season practices, and postseason play. The number of two preseason practices a day for each team would be shortened to a maximum of five days, the number of practices during the season would decrease by three per sport, and post-season stipends would be paid at flat rates rather than per day. This reduction would reduce the stipends paid to coaches. There would be fewer practices for athletes.
  • Eliminate coed volleyball and girls’ developmental golf. This reduction would result in neither coed volleyball nor girls’ developmental golf being available for students. Participation in athletics will be impacted. Students will either find another sport to play or not play a sport at all.
  • Reduce the intramural director stipend by 50 percent. Currently, intramural directors at schools oversee school-wide programs including fitness and weight training. This reduction would result in these programs not being available at the same level as they have been in the past.
  • Reduce boys’ volleyball by two games. Currently, 14 boys’ volleyball games are played. By reducing the number to 12, coaching stipends would be decreased.
  • Reduce the middle school athletics programs by eliminating a game per sport. This will result in savings on stipends, school allocations, and equipment/supplies.

The total savings for these reductions is approximately $1 million. Based on the program reductions above, allocations to schools for athletics would be reduced by approximately $3,000 per school. These options would have an impact on students and staff. Students would have less access to athletic programs with fewer sports being available, shorter seasons, and fewer practices. Stipends would be reduced and less equipment money would be allocated. An alternative to making reductions to the athletic program is to increase revenue. Revenue could be increased as follows:

  • Change the activity fee structure and charge fees per sport/season rather than an annual flat fee. This would result in a revenue increase of approximately $280,000 by charging $30 per sport/season or $325,000 if the fee is set at $35 per sport/season.
  • Increase student parking fees from $75 per year to $100 per year. This would result in an increase in revenue of approximately $115,000.
 

6. What is the budget for afterschool activities? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate any of these programs?

Budget page reference: 1-13 through 1-40

After school activities include athletics; student government; student publications, including school newspaper, yearbook, and literary magazine; other clubs and groups (e.g., drama, mathletes, chess, etc.), and afterschool academic programs (extended day) in middle schools. The budget for the athletic programs is addressed in questions three and four. The budget associated with these activities includes stipends to pay teachers to supervise programs and sponsor clubs at a rate of $14 per hour.

Extra-curricular activity (ECA) stipends are divided into classification 1 and classification 3 activities. Classification I activities are allocated to each middle and high school to run clubs and activities that are selected based on the interests and needs of the students in the schools. Each middle school is allocated 350 hours to use for classification I activities while each high school is allocated 840 hours. The budget for classification I activities is $480,200.

Classification III ECAs are designated in the negotiated agreement between the Montgomery County Education Association and the Board of Education. A set number of hours have been determined for each activity and all schools are authorized to offer each of these activities. A list of the non-athletic classification III activities is provided below.

Elementary School

 
Activity   Stipend  
Choral Director $1,008
Enrichment Activity 1 $350
Enrichment Activity 2 $350
Safety Patrol $2,674
Total Per School $4,382

Middle School

 
Activity   Stipend  
Instrumental Music Director $1,190
Jazz Ensemble Director $980
Choral Director $1,400
Drama Director (2 productions) $3,724
Math Team Coach $1,330
Newspaper Advisor $1,400
SGA $2,940
Stage Director $700
Total Per School $13,664

High School

 
Activity   Stipend  
Competitive Marching/Pep Band $2,310
Instrumental Music Director $2,380
Music Theater Director $910
Choral Director $4,200
Debate Coach $3,150
Drama Director $4,718
Flag/Majorette /or Rifle Team Sponsor $2,100
Forensics Coach $3,150
It's Academic $1,400
Marching Band Pre-Season $896
Mathletes $1,638
Mock Trial Program $1,260
Newspaper Advisor $3,150
Senior Class Advisor $3,500
Junior Class Advisor $2,450
SGA $3,780
Stage Director $4,662
Yearbook Advisor $3,150
Total Per School $48,804

The total amount budgeted for non-athletic classification III stipends is $2.31 million. So, the total budgeted for non-athletic stipends (classification I plus classification III) is $2.79 million.

There also are extended day academic programs to support student achievement that are funded in the middle schools budget. The budget for the middle school extended day program for FY 2012 is $316,667 for stipends and employee benefits, and $43,200 for instructional materials. In addition, funds are budgeted for activity buses; there is $483,262 budgeted for middle school and $294,538 budgeted for high school. These buses also are used for High School Plus and to transport students who stay after school for other reasons such as receiving additional help from teachers. It is important to note that Title 1 schools also host additional after school programs. These are funded by Title 1 funds.

Clubs and other afterschool activities provide an outlet for students. They are a place for students to go after school, especially when there are no adults home. Some of the clubs and activities are tied directly to academics and the curriculum. These clubs include marching band, math club, debate clubs, newspapers, yearbook, and science clubs. It also is important to consider that without transportation many students would not have transportation to get home from these activities and therefore might not be able to participate. Without the middle school extended day program, students would not have the additional support in math and reading that is needed for them to be successful in their classes.

7. What is the budgeted MCPS contribution for the Kennedy Cluster Project? What issues should the Board consider if it decides to terminate this program?

Budget page reference: N/A

The budgeted contribution from MCPS for the John F. Kennedy High School Cluster Disparities and Performances Project (the Kennedy Cluster Project) is $65,760. The MCPS representative for the project is primarily responsible for:

  • Co-chairing the project's operations group that is comprised of heads of partner agencies, five cluster school principals, and other staff.
  • Co-chairing the Multi-Agency Leadership Team that meets twice monthly.
  • Working directly with families and MCPS staff to implement decisions made at team meetings.
  • Meeting with agency heads, senior staff, and non-profit groups (Mental Health Association, IMPACT Silver Spring, etc.) as needed.
  • Co-authoring a periodic newsletter about the project that is distributed to members of the Operations and Leadership groups.
  • Co-chairing periodic meetings of the Operations Group with the Multi-Agency Leadership Team.

The Kennedy Cluster Project began in July 2007 as a joint initiative of County Executive Isiah Leggett; Council Member Valerie Ervin; Council Member Nancy Navarro, then the president of the Board of Education; and Dr. Jerry Weast, superintendent of schools. The project is governed by a memorandum of understanding between the Board of Education and the principal agencies involved in the project. The goal of the project is to help insure that some of our neediest students and families in the cluster receive coordinated educational, social, and health services on a timely basis.

For the past two years the work of the Kennedy Project has primarily been conducted through the Multi-Agency Team. That team is co-chaired by Mrs. Fran Brenneman, director of Child and Adolescent School and Community Based Services, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the project manager appointed by the County Executive to represent the county government; and Mr. Donald Kress, the MCPS manager. The schools involved include: John F. Kennedy High School, Argyle Middle School, Bel Pre Elementary School, Georgian Forest Elementary School, and Strathmore Elementary School. Over the past 18 months, actions taken by the Multi-Agency Team have resulted in the delivery of 212 services to 63 families.

8. Describe the differences in staffing provided by the DCC compared to the NEC? How much would the budget be reduced if the DCC was staffed at the same levels as the NEC? How much would the budget be reduced if the consortia were eliminated? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate either of the high school consortia? What would be the optimal schedule to phase out the consortia? What would the budget savings be in each year of a phase out?

Budget page reference: FY 2012 Program Budget – Page 73

The budget savings for eliminating the Downcounty (DCC) and Northeast (NEC) consortia would result in saving from transportation costs. However, most of these savings would come only at the end of the program phase out. This is because during the phase out many of the buses will still need to continue transporting students. There is a possibility of combining bus routes during the phase out period that would result in some savings; however a thorough review of student locations and grade levels would need to occur to provide an accurate savings estimate. Should the consortia be eliminated, it is estimated there would be a cost savings of $1,316,836 as follows:

  • Transportation –$857,000
  • Central Office Staff - $299,836 - (based on 35 percent of the staffing cost of the consortia office, because their work also includes middle school magnet program and immersion)
  • Central Office Consortia (DCC and NEC) office expenses - $90,000
  • Allocations to schools for additional substitutes, travel, and part time salaries - $70,000

All Downcounty Consortium (DCC) and Northeast Consortium (NEC) schools are staffed with an additional resource teacher (RT) position to serve as the coordinator of the program. This position equates to an additional .2 FTE allocation and 20 summer days per school (a .8 of the position is used for classroom teaching). In addition, the DCC schools are allocated .2 release periods for each of the academy heads in the school. Montgomery Blair high school has five academies while the other schools have four academies. The total allocation for the five schools is 4.2 FTEs (.8 x 4 +1). The three NEC schools are allocated a total of 4.1 additional teachers to support classes in the NEC. Since the DCC and NEC are staffed approximately the same (the NEC is staffed a little higher with each school receiving approximately 1.4 additional teaching staff and the DCC receiving .8) there would not be a significant savings as a result of staffing them the same. In addition to consortium allocations, the DCC schools are allocated additional classroom teacher staffing to support reduced class size in Grade 9 core academic classes. This staffing is not connected to the consortium and therefore would not automatically be part of savings if the consortium was no longer in place. There are a total of 18.2 positions in the DCC to support lower class sizes in Grade 9.

Before eliminating the DCC and the NEC, the Board of Education should consider:

  • The consortia have been exceptionally successful in providing students high quality program choices. Students have consistently chosen, and enrolled in, schools other than their base area school. For the 2010-2011 school year, 35 percent of NEC high school students are enrolled in schools outside their base area. Both James H. Blake and Springbrook high schools include 39 percent non-base students. The Downcounty Consortium experiences a higher trend in non-base assignments. On average, the DCC high schools include 41 percent non-base students. John F. Kennedy and Albert Einstein high schools have the largest number of non-base students (47 percent and 46 percent, respectively). On the survey accompanying choice forms, 77 percent of applicants said they chose their school based on the programs offered.
  • The current consortia arrangements provide students increased opportunity to access high quality program options without the expense of duplicating them at each school. Programs such as Project Lead the Way, International Baccalaureate (IB), dance and performance programs, musical technology, career pathway programs, and media programs have proven to engage students. If access to these programs were limited to students living in the base areas, many programs may become underenrolled. For example, Albert Einstein High School’s IB program has 176 Grades 11 and 12 students. Forty-four percent of those students are non-base students. Wheaton High School’s Project Lead the Way program has 252 Grades 11 and 12 students enrolled and 35 percent of those students are non-base students. The program offerings at the consortia schools have provided graduates with postsecondary opportunities that were not available prior to the implementation of consortia programs.
  • The process parents and students go through to chose and enroll in a school has increased parent involvement in key areas of the district. Nearly 100 percent of the parents of Grade 8 students returned the Round 1 Choice forms this year. In the survey accompanying choice forms, 75 percent of the parents and students say they chose a school because of the signature or academy program; 77 percent of the parents and students saw benefits to the Choice process and signature and/or academy programs. The involvement of students and parents in choices related to their educational future improves family participation in schools and increases student interest in their program.
  • Improving student performance is a key goal of the consortia and it is also important to consider the impact of poverty in weighting the student performance impact of the consortia. According to the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) Report on the Cost and Performance of the Consortia, the growth of poverty in the Consortia has mirrored that of all MCPS high schools. However, these eight schools had a significantly higher poverty rate at the outset and continue to account for most of the highest poverty high schools in MCPS. The ability of staff, parents and students in these schools to perform as well as, or in some cases better than, the MCPS average is a significant achievement. The OLO report showed a total of 15 measures that were used to evaluate the NEC and DCC. The Consortia schools performed equal to, or better than, all MCPS schools on nine of the measures.
  • The NEC and DCC were developed, in part, to reduce the negative community impact of changing high school boundaries that arose with the opening of Blake and Northwood high schools, respectively. The base area boundaries that were drawn for the purpose of the consortia choice process did not receive the same level of community scrutiny as typical high school boundary studies. The base area boundary decisions for Blake and Northwood high schools would need to be reviewed in light of their use as a school boundary. In addition, the middle school feeder patterns would need to be determined, potentially affecting many of the nine DCC middle schools and all five NEC middle schools.
  • The optimal schedule to phase out the consortia would occur over four years as follows:
    1. 2011-2012 (Year 1):
      1. Conduct boundary studies and determine middle school feeder patterns.
      2. Approve boundary changes.
      3. Communicate changes to affected communities.
      4. Plan and fund selected programs for replication that students would no longer be able to access due to discontinuation of Choice.
      5. Grade 8 students would not participate in the Choice process for the 2011-2012 school year.
       
    1. 2012-2013 (Year 2):
      1. Grades 10-12 students would continue attending their assigned high school based on the Choice process lottery assignment. Change of Choice, Round 2 of the Choice process, and appeals would be handled through the Division of Consortia Choice and Application Program Services (DCCAPS).
      2. Grade 9 students would attend their base high school. Requests for transfers would be handled through the Change of School Assignment process (COSA).
       
    1. 2013-2014 (Year 3):
      1. Students who are in grades 11-12 would continue attending their assigned high school based on the Choice process lottery assignment. Change of Choice, Round 2 of the Choice process, and appeals would be handled through the Division of Consortia Choice and Application Program Services (DCCAPS).
      2. Grade 9-10 students would attend their base high school. Requests for transfers would be handled through the Change of School Assignment process (COSA).
      3. Possible impact on increased transportation to the base areas in addition to maintaining the transportation routes for the consortia assigned students.
       
    1. 2014-2015 (Year 4):
      1. Students in Grades 12 would continue attending their assigned high school based on the Choice process lottery assignment. Change of Choice, Round 2 of the Choice process, and appeals would be handled through the Division of Consortia Choice and Application Program Services (DCCAPS).
      2. Grades 9-11 students would attend their base high school. Requests for transfers would be handled through the Change of School Assignment process (COSA).
      3. Continued impact on increased transportation to the base areas in addition to maintaining the transportation routes for the consortia assigned students
       
     
 

9. What would be the budget savings if elementary, middle and high school staff development teachers were eliminated? What would be the budget savings if elementary school staff development teachers were reduced and there would be one itinerant staff development teacher per cluster? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate or reduce this staffing?

Budget page reference: 1-3 through 1-28

Currently there are 131 elementary school staff development teacher (SDT) positions, 21.6 middle school positions, 21.5 high school positions, and 6.0 positions in special education and alternative centers. If these positions were eliminated from the budget, the total savings will be $13,068,861 based on the new hire salary rate for teacher positions. If the number of elementary SDT positions were reduced from 131 to 25 (1 per cluster) the savings would be $7,691,835.

SDT’s provide valuable support to teachers, administrators, and teacher leaders and are a critical component of the infrastructure that supports school improvement. Without these positions the numerous initiatives which have rolled out over the past 10 years may not continue to be implemented with fidelity and consistency. SDT’s have numerous roles in schools in addition to facilitating training such as coaching, mentoring, and providing resources to staff. They guide school staffs in assessing school needs, problem solving, decision-making, and implementing change. The job-embedded professional development provided by SDT’s is essential to the effective implementation of systemwide initiatives. SDT’s often are responsible for providing staff the skills and knowledge needed to implement system initiatives including new curricula and new technology.

The Elementary Integrated Curriculum and the accompanying change to Common Core State Standards will require teachers to collaboratively plan for instruction and to interact with a professional online learning community. Professional development is currently planned for a core team in each school and includes substitute time for each teacher in Kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2 to plan for instruction. While there is professional development infused in the online environment, it is crucial that the SDT receives the core team training and can support teachers ad they learn to plan and instruct in different ways.

Each year SDT’s are required to administer a satisfaction survey to teachers in their buildings. Results from there surveys continue to be high with 87 percent indicating that the SDT provides a valuable service to schools.

10. What is the annual budget for the Professional Learning Communities Institute? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate this program?

Budget page reference: 8-12

The FY 2012 budget for the Professional Learning Communities Institute (PLCI) is $656,036 and includes 3.8 positions.

The PLCI, an MCPS initiative to help close the achievement gap, has a proven record of increasing student achievement across all ethnic groups, and has made a significant contribution toward eliminating the achievement gap. Four years of Maryland State Assessments (MSA) score increases at PLCI schools outpaced state and county averages. The gap between African American and Hispanic students and their White and Asian counterparts at these schools has narrowed. Since its inception in 2005, the PLCI has worked with a total of 53 elementary and middle schools. By building the capacity of a school’s leadership team during a two-year commitment, the PLCI provides a lens through which school leadership teams examine their beliefs and values about student achievement so that they can set high expectations for all students. PLCI’s approach is research-based and collaborative. Once schools have worked with PLCI, leadership teams continue to work effectively together, sustaining the increases to student achievement in the years following PLCI involvement.

11. What is the annual budget for the Equity Training and Development Team? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate this program?

Budget page reference: 8-12

The FY 2012 budget for the Equity Training and Development Team is $1,120,638 and includes 6.0 positions. A reduction of $62,502 for consultants has been included in

the Superintendent Recommended FY 2012 Operating Budget.

The Equity Training and Development Team not only provides direct equity training and consultation, but also develops products, resources, and tools to eliminate racial disparities in student achievement. For this reason, this team is integral to building the leadership capacity within MCPS schools and offices to lead for equity. Since 2005, 50 MCPS schools have made a year-long commitment to the Equity Training and Development Team program, which requires them to include an equity goal within their School Improvement Plan. In addition, this team continues to provide intensive professional development to offices within central services, equipping employees with the knowledge, strategies, and tools to implement the Framework for Equity and Excellence, adopted by the Board of Education in 2009. Central Services staff learns how to infuse equity content and processes into professional development programs and projects.

Since 2005, MCPS has made great contributions in closing the achievement gap among all student groups. The Equity Training and Development Team has provided MCPS employees with tools that help to ensure that all students succeed.

12. What is the budget for outdoor education? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate this program?

Budget page reference: 4-46

The budget for Outdoor and Environmental Education Programs (OEEP) is $1,332,713. This amount pays the salary and benefits of one supervisor, five teachers, and one administrative secretary. The budget also provides for food for students who attend the residential program and supplies for both the residential and day programs. Finally, the budget supports stipends, building rental fees, nursing services, transportation costs, and maintenance fees. If the program were eliminated, the budget could be reduced by $1,171,327 based on using the new hire rate for teachers. This amount would be offset by funds received from students, estimated to be $574,560 for FY 2012. Therefore, the net savings from terminating this program would be $596,767.

If the Outdoor Education program is eliminated, students would no longer have an opportunity to participate in a valuable outdoor education experience. Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) would continue to be required to provide a comprehensive multi-disciplinary curriculum in environmental education according to the code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR, 13A.04.17.01). A decision would need to be made regarding the future of the Lathrop E. Smith Environmental Education Center.

13. Excluding special education ESY programs, what is the net annual cost of summer school programs that are not recovered by fees? What issues should the Board consider in determining whether to eliminate summer school programming?

Budget page reference: 1-29

The total amount budgeted for FY 2012 for the summer school program is $3,585,037, including costs for transportation and the middle school extended year program. The FY 2012 budget for fee revenue is $1,281,148. This amount includes revenue from students who qualified for free or reduced tuition. The net amount that would be saved if the program was eliminated is $2,303,889.   

Issues that need to be considered prior to eliminating elementary summer school are as follows:

  • Struggling students may suffer academically and overall achievement could decline. The summer has been a time for English language learners to keep making progress and for other students to supplement skill gaps as well as prepare for the upcoming school year with enrichment activities. This is especially important for students still learning English because many lose skills over the long summer break.
  • Summer school also has served as a safe place for children to spend the day while parents work.  Summer school cuts will impact low-income families that cannot afford day care and tutoring.
  • Summer school sites qualify for providing meals to all students attending a program at that site as a result of having over 50 percent of participating students who qualify for the Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS).  Without summer school programs, these high-poverty students would no longer have access to these meals provided by MCPS.

Issues that need to be considered prior to eliminating the middle school extended year program that serves approximately 3,875 students are as follows:

  • Reading and math support for our most struggling students would no longer be provided during the four-week summer session.  Reading and math instruction would not be provided for students to meet grade level curriculum expectations and proficiency standards on the MSA.
  • Students would no longer have access to the three week mathematics enrichment programs – Focus on Math 7, Focus on Algebra, and Focus on Geometry.  These programs enable students to be successful in advanced-level mathematics classes.

Issues that need to be considered prior to eliminating high school summer school are as follows:

  • Availability of credit recovery options will be limited to High School Plus (HS+) and repeater sections during the regular school day.  Increased enrollment of students into the regular school day repeater sections will impact staffing and scheduling.  Many of the “B” sections of a course are not offered until the spring semester in most high schools.
  • Students who would typically graduate in August after summer school will have no other option but to return to regular high school or drop out.  This will have a negative impact on graduation rates.
  • Students who need to retake courses will have a direct impact on the capacity of HS+.
  • Students who petition to graduate in three years may not have the ability to complete their course work through HS+.
  • Students will have one less opportunity to prepare for and take the High School Assessments.
 

14. What would be the savings generated by closing all schools for one month during the summer? What issues should the Board consider in determining to take such action?

Budget page reference: N/A

If MCPS did not provide summer school/ESY programs; allow for community use of schools for summer camps, church services, and day care; provide summer training for staff; and schedule maintenance and construction projects, it is estimated that electricity costs could be reduced. Of the 200 MCPS schools, 161 schools were used for summer programs and activities during 2010. Listed below are the most significant issues the Board would need to consider before making a decision to close school buildings for a month during the summer.

Student Summer Programs: 

  • The second high school summer session runs through the first week of August. The total enrollment for summer school is approximately 2,800 students. Closing schools for one month during the summer could impact approximately 150 students who normally graduate after the summer school sessions.
  • Closing schools for one month would impact approximately 1,830 special education students who receive Extended School Year (ESY) services as required by their Individual Education Program. Currently, ESY programs are housed in 27 schools.
  • Approximately 10,400 of our most vulnerable students that attend Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO), Head Start, and the Middle School Extended Year programs may be impacted by closing schools for one month.
  • MCPS provides a summer meals program that serves an estimated 262,000 meals to 9,300 students during the summer months. This program officially ends the Friday before school starts in August. Staff Development:
  • There are five school sites used to provide training programs for approximately 2,400 employees each summer. Training programs would need to be rescheduled or MCPS would incur additional costs to provide the training in other facilities.

Community Use of Schools:

  • The largest user of MCPS facilities during the summer months is the Interagency Coordinating Board for Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF). It is authorized by county law to administer the rental of all MPCS facilities when they are not needed for educational purposes. Due to contractual agreements with the CUPF, approximately 45 school sites remain open during the summer months for use by various community, recreational, and church organizations. MCPS also has contractual arrangements or Memorandums of Understanding with the Montgomery County Government that require MCPS to provide facilities for the county’s Wellness Centers and Child Care Centers on a 12-month basis.
  • Two long-term leases and 31 annual leases with private child-care tenants housed in school buildings would need to be re-negotiated, and the child care would not be able to operate.

Facilities Improvements:

  • Under the Planned Life-cycle Asset Replacement Plan (PLAR) project and other Capital Improvements Program (CIP) projects, there are ongoing maintenance and construction projects that require access to schools during the summer months. More than 100 of our schools had projects last summer. These projects tend to take place during the summer month since most students are not in class.

In addition to the issues addressed above, it is important to note that 140 psychologist and pupil personnel workers are housed in 24 schools during the summer. Alternate work locations would need to considered at a significant cost, or the work schedule for these employees would need to be adjusted, resulting in a decreased level of service to some our most vulnerable students and families. Also, main office and building services staff work in their assigned schools year round. This may reduce the utilities savings that could be realized. To produce significant savings, the work schedule/pay for these employees would need to be reduced.

15. What is the budget for high school signature programs and academies that are not located at consortia schools? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate any of these programs?

Budget page reference: N/A

MCPS’s 25 high schools host numerous special programs including signature, academies, and magnet programs. Five high schools are involved in the Downcounty Consortium academy programs while the Northeast Consortium includes three high schools. In addition, three of the county high schools, (Blair, Poolesville and Richard Montgomery) host county-wide or regional magnets.  Of the remaining fifteen schools (Blair is both a consortia school and a magnet school), eleven have a signature program.  Of the remaining four schools, B-CC and Watkins Mill have IB programs and Magruder and Whitman do not have a special program.

These signature programs serve as specialty high-interest thematic and rigorous programs to meet the needs of students who live in the service area and do not attend magnet programs at other schools. Programs range from media technology and international studies to creative and performing arts.  Each signature program is staffed with a .4 teacher to support the program coordination.   The budget for the signature programs at the 11 non-consortia schools consists of the .4 allocation at a total cost of $309,816 plus a total $68,000 allocated to the schools for substitutes, stipends, and travel. 

Prior to FY 2010, an instructional specialist position provided support to academy and signature programs.  This position was eliminated and the duties were absorbed by staff in the Division of Consortia Choice and Application Program Services.  Curriculum staff in the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs also support the signature programs at these 11 schools.

Before making additional budget reductions to the signature/academy programs the Board of Education should consider the following:

  • Each high school’s special program and pathways are designed to meet the programming needs and interests of the local student populations. Programs are thematically designed to appeal to students and to provide learning opportunities in and outside of the classroom. A variety of high school application programs is available for most Grade 8 students (immersion, magnet, arts, environment, humanities) and therefore, schools also consider ways to attract the interests of their local students to stay at their school.  Each program meets Maryland requirements for graduation in addition to specializing in an area of focus that is relevant and challenging. 
  • The .4 position for each high school provides assistance to the academy or signature program for students in the following ways:
    • Works with teachers to write, upgrade,  and monitor the curriculum
    • Coordinates and delivers outreach to feeder middle schools and parents regarding the opportunities
    • Manages a student enrollment database of participants
    • Collaborates with counselors and provide direct counseling to students and parents regarding course and program completion
    • Coordinates college-course taking opportunities with nearby universities and Montgomery College
    • Coordinates capstone and internship projects
    • Establishes partnerships with the business community
    • Increases completion of career pathways programs
    • Collaborates with the counseling team to refine course registration to optimize program completion
    • Coordinates incentive programs to increase student performance
    • Coordinates extracurricular activities within the school for students (academy fair, lecture series, field trips/site visits, competitions/contests)
    • Prepares, coaches,  and coordinates participation in local, state, and national conferences, competitions, and contests
     
  • Currently, over 10,000 students are involved in these special programs and schools are reporting they are meeting success in areas of decreased ineligibility, increased attendance, increased participation and performance in AP and honor courses, increased student engagement, increased college readiness (Accuplacer), and increased acceptance to four-year colleges. For example, Quince Orchard High School reported a 31 percent increase in AP course participation for the whole school from 2009-10 to 2010-11.  This includes an increase of 53 percent for African Americans (from 30 to 83 percent) and for Hispanic students (from 29 to 82 percent). 
  • A comprehensive high school program is available in every MCPS high school, and a strategy to address the various programming needs in all of our high schools is by way of the academy and signature programs. The program structure provides students enriched learning opportunities in and out of the classroom. 
 

16. In the January, 2009 performed by the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits (http://www.ola.state.md.us/Reports/Schools/MCPS09.pdf), there were recommendations made relative to MCPS’s policies and practices regarding planning and revising bus routes. See page 47. Specifically, OLA observed that, unlike other systems, MCPS does not assign students to specific routes, policies do not address bus capacities or maximum ride times. What budget savings could be accomplished if the OLA recommendations were followed?

Budget page reference:

As the Department of Transportation (DOT) explained to the OLA at the time of the audit, no savings would be realized from assigning individual students to buses. DOT uses historical ridership numbers rather than individual names and addresses to plan regular education bus routes. This eliminates the need to track the ridership, day care, and dual-household/custody details for each student rider. Tracking these items and making associated routing changes for the 5000 MCPS students who receive specialized transportation would not provide benefits that would justify the additional work.

The use of historical ridership data provides a good basis for route planning. In the beginning of each year, some routes are adjusted to account for unanticipated differences in ridership. This normally amounts simply to moving stops from one route to another, or splitting a stop into two stops served by two different routes.

Individual assignment of students to bus routes, in those counties that make such assignments, is simply the computer assisted routing system’s best estimate of the route the student will ride based primarily on the proximity of the stop to the student’s house. Most systems make no attempt to track the individualized information listed above.

In addition to the use of historical ridership data, DOT also evaluates each bus route annually to identify additional efficiencies. Bus capacities and ride times are both major factors in initial route planning and route evaluation.

17. Policy EEA establishes walking distances as 1 mile for elementary schools, 1.5 miles for middle schools, and 2 miles for high schools. A.) What are the walking distances at other systems in the Washington area? B.) What would the savings be if these distances were extended by one half mile? C.) What issues should the Board consider if it determines to take action?

Budget page reference: 6-83

A.) The chart below provides walking distances for other counties within the state of Maryland and for other Washington area school systems at the kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school levels.

COUNTY   KINDERGARTEN
WALK DISTANCE
 
ELEMENTARY
WALK DISTANCE
 
MIDDLE SCHOOL
WALK DISTANCE
 
HIGH SCHOOL
WALK DISTANCE
 
Allegany AM/PM 1.0 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Anne Arundel 0.5 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Arlington 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Baltimore City 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Baltimore County AM/PM 1.0 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles
  Noon 0.0 mile for Pre-K      
Calvert 0.5 mile 0.5 mile 1.0 mile 1.0 mile
Caroline 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Carroll AM/PM 0 mile 0 mile 1.0 mile 1.0 mile
Cecil Pre K 0.5 miles 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles
Charles AM/PM 1.0 Noon 0.5 miles 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles
Dorchester 0 miles any request 0 miles any request 1.0 mile 1.5 miles
Fairfax AM/PM 1.0 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
  Noon 0.0 mile for Pre-K      
Frederick 1.25 miles 1.25 miles 1.75 miles 1.75 miles
Garrett 0.5 miles 0.5 miles 1.0 mile 1.5 miles
Harford 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Howard AM/PM 1.0 Noon 0.5 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles
Kent AM/PM 1.0 Noon 0.5 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles
Loudon 0.8 miles 0.8 miles 1.0 mile 1.0 mile
Montgomery 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 2.0 miles
Prince George’s AM/PM 1.5 Noon 1.5 miles 1.5 miles 2.0 mile 2.0 miles
Queen Anne’s 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
St Mary’s 0.5 miles 0.5 miles 1.0 mile 1.0 mile
Somerset 0.5 miles 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Talbot 0.5 miles 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.5 miles
Washington 0.5 miles Noon only 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Wicomico AM/PM 1.0 Noon 0.5 miles 1.0 mile 1.5 miles 1.5 miles
Worchester 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.0 mile 1.0 mile

B.) If walking distances were extended by one half mile, the savings would be $1,612,420. This consists of salary savings of 24.0 positions, associated benefits, lease costs for replacement buses, contractual and supply costs.  There would be no loss of state transportation revenue because the amount of the grant is not affected by the number of students transported.  Below is a chart displaying the savings.  

Cost Savings
Salaries $625,080
Employee Benefits $282,536
Contractual services $3,120
Supplies $214,796
Lease of 24 Buses $486,888
Total savings $1,612,420

C.) Some of the issues and concerns that the Board should consider are as follows:

  • Compared to nearly all other school districts, MCPS students already have the longest walking distances.  If distances were increased, health risks need to be considered.  Some students would spend up to two hours a day walking to and from school and FARMS students would need to leave even earlier in the morning in order to be on time for breakfast. Also, students who carry heavy backpacks would be affected by the amount of time it takes them to walk to school.
  • Research and study of safety for proposed walk routes would need to be completed.
  • Students would have less time for homework in the afternoons, especially those who participate in after school activities, music lessons, tutoring, religious activities, and medical appointments. 
  • Traffic congestion on roadways and in school zones would increase due to more parents driving their kids to school rather than having them walk. 
 

18. What is the budget for each of the elementary, middle, and high school language immersion programs? How many students are in each program? What are the transportation costs for each of these programs? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate any of these programs?

Budget page reference: 1-3, 1-20

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) offers three Spanish, two French, and two Chinese elementary school foreign language immersion programs at seven sites in the county. MCPS offers two Spanish, two French, and one Chinese middle school foreign language immersion programs at five sites in the county. No high school immersion programs are offered.

There are 1,531 students enrolled in elementary immersion programs and 332 students enrolled in middle school immersion programs. There are 5.5 immersion program coordinator positions that oversee the programs at elementary schools. The budget for these positions including employee benefits is $567,477. There are no immersion program coordinators for middle school programs.

Total transportation costs for all immersion programs are $603,524. Cost by school level can be provided if required. Transportation savings will only be realized when the immersion programs are fully phased out. In addition, immersion program transportation services are shared with certain special education programs that are expected to continue.

Other costs associated with the program include translations of curriculum and student resources. On average, MCPS spends approximately $2,000 per year on translations for each program.

It is anticipated that any savings associated with the elimination of the program will be limited initially due to nature of phasing out the program over several years. It also is anticipated that there would be no savings in classroom teacher positions, because students will still be required to take similar course loads.

Immersion programs play an important part in world languages in that they give students an opportunity to become fluent in language learning at an early age.

19. Other than immersion programs, what foreign languages are offered at each middle school? What would be the savings if only the three most popular languages were offered? What issues should the Board consider in determining to take such an action?

Budget page reference: 1-13

Four languages are offered at middle schools, with Spanish, French, and Chinese the most popular. Italian is the fourth language taught at the middle school level and there are only 102 students enrolled. No savings would be realized if Italian were not offered since students would still need to take a world language class.

The following foreign languages are offered at each middle school:

  • Spanish is offered at all 38 middle schools.
  • French is offered at all middle schools except Argyle, John T. Baker, Col. E. Brooke Lee, John Poole, Ridgeview, and Sligo.
  • Chinese is offered at: Cabin John, Robert Frost, Herbert Hoover, Parkland, Thomas W. Pyle, and Julius West middle schools. Italian is offered at North Bethesda, Tilden, and Westland middle schools.
  • The following eight middle schools offer Awareness of Language and Culture (AOLC), also known as Orientation to Languages, as part of the Arts Rotation: John T. Baker, Cabin John, Forest Oak, Francis Scott Key, Julius West, Neelesville, Thomas W. Pyle, and Westland. Chevy Chase and North Chevy Chase elementary schools also offer it to their Grade 6 students.
 

20. Other than immersion programs, what foreign languages are offered at each high school? What would be the savings if only the five most popular languages were offered? What issues should the Board consider in determining to take such an action?

Budget page reference: 1-21

The following languages, listed in order of greatest to least number of students enrolled, are offered at high schools: Spanish, French, Chinese, Latin, Italian, American Sign Language, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, and German.

The following outlines what foreign languages are offered at each high school:

  • Spanish and French are offered at all 25 high schools.
  • Chinese is offered at the following 11 high schools: Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Blake, Churchill, Walter Johnson, Magruder, Richard Montgomery, Quince Orchard, Rockville, Wheaton, Whitman, and Wootton.
  • Latin is offered at the following 8 high schools: Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Blair, Walter Johnson, Magruder, Richard Montgomery, Northwood, Quince Orchard, and Wootton.
  • Italian is offered at the following 7 high schools: Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Walter Johnson, Kennedy, Sherwood, Springbrook, Wheaton, and Whitman.
  • American Sign Language is offered at the following 4 high schools: Magruder, Quince Orchard, Rockville, and Wootton.
  • Arabic is offered at the following 4 high schools: Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Blair, Springbrook, and Whitman.
  • Japanese is offered at the following 4 high schools: Blair, Einstein, Paint Branch, and Whitman.
  • German is offered at the following 3 high schools: Clarksburg, Springbrook, and Wootton.
  • Russian is offered at 2 high schools: Gaithersburg and Whitman.

If only the five most popular languages were offered, no savings would be incurred because students would still need to take a language to meet graduation requirements. Currently, high schools have combined different language level classes to minimize staffing requirements.

In determining whether to offer only the five most popular languages, the Board should consider that we began to teach non-traditional languages due to the vast diversity and culture of the Montgomery County population. If any languages are to be discontinued, a plan to phase out the language to allow students to complete a course of study that they have already begun should be considered.

21. What is the budget for the Primary Years Programme? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate this program?

Budget page reference: 1-3

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a whole school program, serving all 805 students at College Gardens Elementary School.  PYP is an extension of the International Baccalaureate model of instruction to the elementary school years, completing a Pre K-12 experience at College Gardens Elementary School, Julius West Middle School, and Richard Montgomery High School.  Six transdisciplinary themes of global significance provide the framework from which the high level IB curriculum is delivered. The successful implementation of the PYP supports student attainment of Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) Seven Keys to College Readiness.

The total budget for the Primary Years Programme is $130,564. There is $103,178 budgeted for a 1.0 PYP coordinator. There is also $27,386 budgeted for registration fees, official IB training, substitutes, and teacher planning.   

MCPS has made a significant investment in the PYP over the last seven years resulting in high quality professional development for teachers, a strong parent and community commitment, and increased student achievement. MSA data from 2004 to 2010 show improvement in student achievement during this period, particularly among African American and Hispanic students.  Before making budget decisions related to this program the Board of Education should consider the following:

  • College Gardens Elementary School will lose its authorization as an IB school. In 2005 College Gardens Elementary School became the first elementary school authorized by IB for PYP in Maryland. In 2010, College Gardens successfully completed its evaluation by IB.
  • MCPS currently has the only complete IB continuum in the state of Maryland with College Gardens Elementary School feeding into Julius West Middle School and then, into Richard Montgomery High School, acclaimed as an international model. The termination of this program will sever this continuum.
  • Parents and community members are heavily invested in the PYP. They praise the inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning and strong emphasis on internationalism and respect for cultures worldwide.
  • The PYP has fostered a positive school climate and culture of high expectations for all students over the last seven years. Termination of the PYP may change this climate and culture which benefits all students at the school.
  • Without the rigorous PYP curriculum, inquiry-based approach, and exposure to a second language and teaching methodology, student preparation for successful advanced course work in the middle and high school, especially the Middle Years Programme and the Diploma Programme, will be threatened. As a result of this K-12 articulation, Richard Montgomery High School has had a significant increase in the enrollment of local students in its magnet IB program.
  • Teachers strongly support the program and value the professional development experiences.
 

22. What is the budget for the Middle Years Programme? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to terminate this program?

Budget page reference: 1-13

The amount budgeted for thel Middle Years Programmes’ for FY 2012 is $833,217. The budget includes $172,879 for registration fees, IB official training, substitutes, and teacher planning time at Francis Scott Key, Newport Mill, Julius West, Westland, and Silver Spring International middle schools, and, Springbrook, Richard Montgomery, and Bethesda-Chevy Chase high schools. The amount budgeted for salaries and employee benefits for 6.4 teacher positions that serve as coordinators at the MYP schools is $660,338. If this program were eliminated, the budget would be reduced by $590,117 based on using the new hire salary amount for teacher positions.

All MYP schools, with the exception of Richard Montgomery High School, are whole school programs, serving all students in the school. The original IB international middle school model includes grades 6-10. This model allows students to continue into the Grade 11 and Grade 12 diploma program. The funding listed above covers the enrollment of students listed in the table below.

School  Students enrolled in the MYP 
Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School 976
Chevy Chase Elementary School (Grade 6 Only) 93
Francis Scott Key Middle School 857
Newport Mill Middle School 662
North Chevy Chase Elementary School (Grade 6 Only) 78
Richard Montgomery High School 269
Silver Spring International Middle School 774
Springbrook High School 1,009
Julius West Middle School 970
Westland Middle School 1,015
Total 6,703

Montgomery County Public Schools’ has made a significant investment in the MYP over the last eight years resulting in high quality professional development for teachers, a strong parent and community commitment and following, and increased student achievement. MSA data from 2004 to 2010 show improvement in student achievement during this period, particularly among African American and Hispanic students. 

Before making budget decisions related to this program, the Board of Education should consider the following:

  • All schools with the MYP would lose their IB authorization as an internationally acclaimed program.  From 2002-2009, all schools trained their staff, implemented the MYP program, and participated in the IB authorization process. At this time, these schools have successfully completed the authorization process. The termination of the MYP would result in the loss of this financial and educational investment.
  • Across the county, parents and community members hold the MYP in high esteem. They respect its global significance and rigorous, interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning.
  • The MYP has fostered a positive school climate and culture of high expectations for all students over the last five years. Termination of the MYP may change this climate and culture which benefits all students at the school.
  • The MYP has contributed to increased student achievement and preparation for advanced course work in middle and high school; especially the Diploma Programme. The termination of this program may cause a drop in this successful trend as evidenced below.
  • In 2010, students took a total of 2,414 IB exams, scoring a 4 or higher on 2,074 exams (85.9 percent).
  • Furthermore, 78.7 percent of the IB exams taken by Hispanic students earned a score of 4 or higher. Similarly, 69 percent of the IB exams taken by African American students earned a score of 4 or higher.
  • Without the MYP, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills, all strong components of MYP instruction that prepare students for the 21st century and enhance the goals the of Middle School Reform efforts may be threatened.
  • Teachers strongly support the program and value the professional development experiences.
 

23. Provide clarification on the FY 2012 staffing ratio calculations for English Speakers of Languages (ESOL). How does this compare to FY 2011?

Budget page reference: 4-71

The staffing ratios were increased due to a reduction of 6.0 ESOL teacher positions in the final FY 2011 budget appropriated by the County Council in May 2010 and adopted by the Board of Education in June 2010. The staffing ratios are not changed for FY 2012. The chart below shows the staffing ratios in FY 2011 and FY 2012.

  FY 2011 Request  FY 2011 Final  FY 2012 Budget 
Elementary school 41.0:1 41.5:1 41.5:1
Middle school 35.0:1 35.5:1 35.5:1
High school 30.0:1 30.4:1 30.4:1

It is important to note that the elementary schools’ budgeted staffing ratio is 41.5:1 but staff are allocated at a ratio of 44.5:1. This allows us to respond to fluctuations in individual school enrollments without having to pull staff from one school to cover another.

24. Please respond to the testimony of Mr. Monsheimer, of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League, who suggests that the FY 2012 budget for special education students in private placements be based on FY 2011 actual expenditures.

Budget page reference: 5-16

The budget for tuition for special education students who require nonpublic programs is based on projections of the number of students and school tuition rates set by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). When the budget is developed initially, actual expenditures for the current fiscal year are not yet available. As the enrollment at each school becomes more stable and the tuition rates for each student are billed, the budget for tuition is reviewed to take into account the most up-to-date information. In some years, this necessitates a budget amendment.

The most recent monthly financial report, as of December 31, 2010, reflected a surplus resulting from a decrease in the projected number of students requiring nonpublic placement. The costs for these students, along with all other MCPS accounts, are consistently reviewed to ensure that the projected budget is aligned with the most accurate forecasts. These reviews allow MCPS to adjust the FY 2012 operating budget as necessary.

25. Respond to the issue raised in the Damascus Cluster testimony regarding schools losing the ability to access cable on network TV as our nation went from analog to digital transmission.

Budget page reference: N/A

The Federal Communications Commission, mandated effective in February 2009 the conversion of all cable and “over-the-air” television transmission (TV) to digital technology. All home and governmental agencies receiving “over-the-air” signals were required to change their transmission from analog to digital frequencies on that date. All older analog-only TV sets would become outdated after that deadline had passed. For one year prior to the designated date, the FCC offered all citizens a digital converter box at a reduced rate to allow them to convert old analog-based TV signals to digital to allow them to view the new digital signal.

Because many MCPS schools have older analog TV monitors, Comcast provided MCPS with 3 digital converter boxes per school to allow each school to select up to three channels that they may tune in within their closed circuit systems. Schools could choose any channels that were between channels 1 and 35 and rebroadcast them over their closed circuit systems. Channels above 35 became unavailable for viewing due to encryption software added by Comcast. Such channels as the USA Network, The History Channel, and CNN are among cable channels above channel 35 in the current lineup that were placed on another “tier” and are no longer available for viewing.

MCPS has been converting all schools to full digital technology through the technology refreshment program implemented by the Office of Chief Technology Officer. By 2014, computers at all schools should be fully digitally capable allowing them to receive any available TV signal that has not been encrypted by the cable company.

26. Please respond to the Blair Cluster testimony regarding Title I principals’ recommendation that the Extended Learning Opportunity-Summer Adventures in Learning (ELO SAIL) be an invitation only program.

Budget page reference: 1-29

The Blair Cluster testimony referenced a recommendation of Title I school principals that the Extended Learning Opportunity-Summer Adventures in Learning program (ELO SAIL) become an “invitation” only program. The ELO SAIL program is a free four-week summer program available to all students in Title I elementary schools.  Additionally, homeless students who are registered to attend any MCPS elementary school may attend the program at identified Title I schools.  The program features a four-hour instructional day of reading, language arts, and mathematics for students entering kindergarten and grades 1-5.  Additionally,   breakfast and lunch are provided to all participating students.
The objectives of the ELO SAIL program are to:

  • meet the academic needs of each student by providing opportunities to catch up on grade-level concepts or accelerating learning by previewing concepts;
  • strengthen basic skills that are preconditions for later learning;
  • alleviate the achievement loss that some students may experience over the summer months;
  • provide continuing English language instruction for speakers of other languages.

Changing the ELO SAIL to an invitation only program would limit the educational benefits that are currently provided to all students in Title I schools. It would become more of an intervention-only program rather than an extended-learning opportunities program that benefits all who participate. Students who may be at-risk at the end of the school year and are not invited to attend the program may be in need of interventions by the beginning of the next school year because they have not had any learning opportunities during the summer.

This past summer, approximately 6,471 students participated in the program at the 30 Title I schools at a cost of $1.3 million, not including employee benefits. This includes the cost of materials, bus transportation, and staff. If the ELO SAIL were an invitation only program, the number of schools providing the program could be reduced resulting in some savings in personnel costs. However, the savings may be offset by the increases in transportation costs, as more students would need to be bused from their home schools to a school providing the program. By limiting the number of schools offering the program, participation rates may drop because elementary school parents are often hesitant to have their students ride buses and attend programs at other schools.

27. What are the benefits to MCPS of the $1.6 million budgeted for university partnership tuition? Are there less costly alternatives for this program? What would be the impact if this program was discontinued?

Budget page reference: 8-21

The university partnership program is a budget neutral program that allows MCPS to recruit and retain highly qualified teacher applicants in critical need areas such as math, science, and special education. There are approximately 75 teaching fellows participating in partnership programs with John Hopkins University (ProMAT and ProSEMS programs), University of Maryland (UMCP master’s certification program) and George Washington University (Teachers 2000 program). The $1.6 million budgeted for tuition in the Office of Human Resources and Development is fully offset by the savings from hiring program participants as long-term substitute teachers instead of hiring permanent teachers. Other savings and costs for this program are included in the budgets for K-12 Instruction, the Department of Financial Services, and the Office of Special Education and Student Services.

If the university partnership programs were discontinued, MCPS would have to hire additional teachers at a higher cost for salary and employee benefits. Also, MCPS would lose a pool of highly qualified candidates available to fill critical need areas.

28. What would be the appropriate fee structure to make High School Plus self-supporting? What issues should the Board consider in making a decision to charge fees for this program?

Budget page reference: 1-21

To determine the appropriate fee structure to make the High School Plus program self-supporting, an analysis of the cost of the after-school High School Plus program was conducted. The table below breaks down the cost of the program for the 2009–2010 school year:

After-School High School Plus – FY 2010 
Enrollment = 4,974 
Teachers (Regular Ed) $901,273
Teachers (Special Ed) 84,633
Security 56,088
Clerical 49,510
Substitutes 12,922
Stipends 205,275
Employee Benefits 84,489
Total $1,394,189
Cost Per Course   $280 

The table above shows a total cost of $1,394,189 for the after-school High School Plus program during the 2009–2010 school year. Based on enrollment of 4,974 students, the cost per course is $280. For the program to be self-supporting, every student who enrolls in the program would have to pay a fee of $280 per course. Currently, high schools offer two courses per year, with the exception of Blair and Wheaton that offer four courses per year. If fees were charged, a student may be required to pay $1,120 for four courses.

If fees are charged, it is estimated that there would be a significant number of students from low-income families would pay a reduced fee. If the percentage of students who pay the reduced fee for summer school is applied to the High School Plus program, MCPS would need to subsidize approximately $510,935.

A key issue to be considered by the Board regarding charging fees for High School Plus is the potential for a significant decrease in student enrollment in the program resulting in lower graduation rates. Also, because students cannot be charged fees for classes taken during the day, the current program structure that allows some student to take High School Plus during the day while others attend classes afterschool would need to be examined.

29. How many students currently attend the Richard Montgomery IB Diploma Programme who otherwise would have access to either a home or consortia school that also has an IB Diploma Programme? What are the transportation costs associated with those students? What issues should the Board consider if it chose to discontinue bus transportation to RM from those catchment areas?

Budget page reference: N/A

Fifty-seven students attend the Richard Montgomery High School International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) from home schools that offer IBDP. The chart below shows the number of students by school.

High School   Students 
Albert Einstein 7
Bethesda-Chevy Chase 5
John F. Kennedy 7
Rockville 16
Seneca Valley 6
Springbrook 6
Watkins Mill 10
TOTAL  57

Bus routes serving Richard Montgomery High School (RMHS) from outside its attendance area are shared by the IB, alternative, and special education programs. The approximate FY 2012 cost per student for transportation to RMHS from outside its boundaries is $911 per student, resulting in a potential savings of approximately $51,927.  However, because bus routes typically cover multiple high school clusters, the reduction of a small number of students from a bus route may not result in realizing possible savings if the total number of routes cannot be reduced.

The Board may wish to weigh the following factors should it consider discontinuing transportation to the areas served by local and consortia IB Diploma Programs:

  • Unless the Board votes to eliminate transportation immediately to these areas, full cost savings may not be realized until students currently served by transportation graduate, most likely in FY 2016.
  • The IBDP at RMHS is designed to run with 100 students per grade level. Reducing this number would reduce the number of unique IB electives and impact the quality of the program. Maintaining this number while drawing from fewer clusters will attract more students from the remaining cluster high schools.
 

30. We heard testimony from Westland Middle School regarding hours-based staffing at the middle school level. How many of our middle schools currently receive hours-based staffing for special education? Can we predict, within some reasonable range, what it would cost to provide hours- based staffing to the remaining middle schools?

Budget page reference: N/A

Currently, there are seven middle schools (Cabin John, Robert Frost, North Bethesda, Rosa Parks, John Poole, Takoma Park, and Westland) that are not staffed using the hours-based staffing (HBS) formula. Student enrollment numbers and service hours, as of January 2011, were used to calculate the estimated cost of staffing these schools with HBS for FY 2012.

As of January 2011, 33.2 special education teachers and 20.125 special education paraeducators are providing classroom services to the students with disabilities in these seven schools. If the HBS model is applied, 9.488 additional positions, (3.8 teachers and 5.688 paraeducators), for a total of 37.0 teachers and 25.813 paraeducators would be requried to serve these same students. The cost of providing the additional staff, including salary and benefits, would be $541,089.

31. How many lunch room aides/assistants do we employ at the Middle School level (outside of the regular building staff who may be assigned lunch room duty)? Do we hire outside lunch room aides at the High School level? What is the cost of hiring additional lunch room assistants at MS (and at HS)? What issues should the Board consider if it determines to eliminate lunch room assistant positions at the MS (and or HS) level?

Budget page reference: 1-13

There are 34.6 lunch hour aides budgeted in middle schools at a cost of $1,008,417, including employee benefits. The amount per position is $29,145. Some schools hire one employee to fill the allocated hours while other schools hire several employees, allocating each person from one to up to six hours per day. Sometimes schools pair the lunch hour aide allocation with paraeducator hours. Some schools use these hours to hire temporary part-time employees rather than permanent positions. High schools do not have lunch hour aides.

If the Board were to consider eliminating middle school lunch hour aide positions, security staff and administrators would need to ensure the safety of students during lunch hour. Also, like many other reductions, a significant number of employees would have their hours and their annual income reduced.

32. Explain the increase for professional part-time funds in the elementary schools’ budget. Also, provide details on what is budgeted under contractual services. Are options available for reducing contractual services budgeted for elementary, middle and high schools? What is budgeted under miscellaneous in middle schools?

Budget page reference: 1-3

As part of the zero-based budget process, realignments are necessary to address priority spending needs for the elementary, middle, and high schools’ budgets.  For FY 2012 there is a realignment of $343,551 for additional support for the elementary schools’ professional part-time salaries.  The professional part-time salaries are used to support the Council on Teaching and Learning, supervisors of student teachers, spring concert performances, curriculum training, and to hire temporary staff when school administrative staff are on leave, on temporary assignment while interns serve as the principal of the school, or when the positions become vacant.   

The funds budgeted for elementary contractual services are used to support:

  • Library Circulation software;
  • AmeriCorps services;
  • Consultants to provide professional development to school staff;
  • Consultants to provide first-aid classes and other courses requiring specific certifications;
  • Consultants to work with drama groups;
  • Strathmore Music Center fees;
  • Adjudicators for instrumental music festivals;
  • Facilitators for systemwide groups that deal with school issues as well as school groups and teams.

Staff continuously explores options for reductions in this area. 

The middle schools’ miscellaneous budget of $947,749 supports the following activities within the middle schools:

  • Athletics programs
  • After-school activity buses
  • Instrumental music
  • Drama Club programs
  • School newspapers
 

33. What would be the impact of cutting the 20.0 vocational/career preparation teachers that are on the list of potential/non-recommended reductions?

Budget page reference: 1-21

The reduction of 20.0 vocational/career preparation teacher positions will be made using enrollment in career preparation and internship programs to determine allocations to schools. Staff are reviewing the number of students enrolled in the programs at each school to determine the guidelines for allocating the positions. Once the guidelines are established they will be used to allocate the positions in an equitable manner in early March. Schools with low or no enrollment will receive less staffing than schools with a large number of students enrolled, or no staffing.

34. What is budgeted under other contractual services and miscellaneous in the Department of Family and Community Partnerships?

Budget page reference: 2-13

The $86,502 budgeted under other contractual services in the Department of Family and Community Partnerships supports the following:

  • Consulting services for the Study Circles Program;
  • Back-to-School Fair expenses for buses, crossing guards, and security;
  • Facility rental fees to conduct the Parent Outreach Conference for staff;
  • Fees for leadership training at the George B. Thomas Learning Academy; and
  • Equipment service agreements for the office copier and fax machines.

Under the miscellaneous line item, $50,000 is budgeted for the Intergenerational Project. Through this project, older adults provide tutoring and mentoring services to MCPS students. Also, $300 is budgeted for on-line subscriptions related to implementing volunteer programs.

35. What is the cost to add one additional personal leave day for employees?

Budget page reference: N/AThe 2011- 2014 negotiated agreements between the Board of Education and the three employee unions include the following provisions for personal leave:

  • Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) unit members may be granted up to three days of personal leave per year.  Up to two days may be carried over from year to year for a total of five days per year.  Unused personal leave is transferred to accumulated sick leave at the end of the school year. 
  • Service Employees International Union Local 500 (SEIU) unit members may be granted up to four days per year of personal leave.  Up to two personal days may be carried over from year to year for a total of six days per year.  Unused personal leave is transferred to accumulated sick leave at the end of the school year.
  • Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP/MCBOA) unit members may be granted up to five days per year for personal leave. One day of unused personal leave may be carried over from year to year for a total of six days of accrued leave.  However, no more than five days of personal leave may be used during any fiscal year, in addition to the one day that may be contributed to the MCAAP leave bank. Unused personal leave is transferred to accumulated sick leave at the end of the school year. 

The estimated cost associated with granting one additional day of personal leave to employees is $921,912 for salaries and employee benefits to provide substitute coverage.  In both FY 2009 and FY 2010, approximately 54 percent of MCPS employees used all of their personal leave days.  If 54 percent of teachers or 5,530 FTE use an additional day of personal leave, it would cost $748,760 to hire substitutes to provide one day of class coverage.  Substitute coverage for 54 percent of bus operators, or 558.2 FTE and 209.5 FTE bus attendants would cost $94,502.  The cost to provide substitute coverage for approximately 54 percent of special education paraeducators, or 679.3 FTE would be $78,650.  Although it is not quantifiable, there would be a loss of productivity for other 10-month and 12-month employees if an additional day of personal leave were granted.  

36. How many positions were realigned to the Department of Instructional Leadership Support as a result of the reorganization in FY 2011?

Budget page reference: 4-10

The FY 2012 budget includes 25.0 positions in the Department of Instructional Leadership Support. In FY 2011, eleven positions were realigned into this department from the Office of Organizational Development as part of the reorganization. These positions included a 1.0 director II, a 1.0 director I, a 1.0 administrative secretary III, a 1.0 administrative secretary II, a 1.0 office assistant IV, and 6.0 instructional specialist positions.

37. What is the budget for stipends used for in the Entrepreneurial Fund?

Budget page reference: 6-14

The activities within the Entrepreneurial Activities Fund that include stipends as part of their budget are listed below:

Entrepreneurial Project  Stipend Amount   Purpose 
Project North Star $100,000 Funds provide for professional development for teachers to implement the elementary integrated curriculum for Kindergarten-Grade 2 in all elementary schools.
Choral Music $21,000 Funds are used to pay teachers for coaching, managing, and conducting the countywide honors program for choral music.
Curriculum Guide Sales $18,520 Funds are used to pay teachers for writing/reviewing curriculum, assessments, and professional development for the online curriculum.
Instrumental Music $12,750 Funds are used to pay teachers for coaching, managing, and conducting the countywide honors program for instrumental music.
Online Learning $10,000 Funds are used for coordinating, monitoring, and mentoring of new teachers on the use of the online learning curriculum, new course content production of online courses, and for presentations at parent meetings.

38. For FY 2010, how much did MCPS collect in insurance premiums and how much was paid in claims? How much would be saved and what would be the impact of increasing employee co-payments from $10 to $20? What would be the savings if coverage for orthodontia more closely resembled that provided for federal employees?

Budget page reference: 6-21

Listed below are the revenues, premiums and claims included in the FY 2010 MCPS Employee Benefit Fund. The insurance plans within this fund are self-insured except for the plan with Kaiser. The revenues that fund the plan include payroll deductions from active employees and retiree’s pay, Medicare payments, prescription rebates, investment earnings, and the amount appropriated for health insurance in the MCPS operating budget. Premium payments to various insurance carriers and the claims amount represent the actual costs of providing health services to MCPS employees. .

FY 2010 EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLAN 
  Active Employees   Retirees   Total  
Revenues:
Employee/Retiree Contributions $20,161,225 $24,388,255 $44,549,480
County Appropriations/All Other 226,991,158 44,273,479 271,264,637
Total Revenues 247,152,383 68,661,734 315,814,117
Expenses:
Claims Paid 187,734,719 61,004,423 248,739,142
Kaiser Insurance Payment* 35,371,718 5,458,490 40,830,208
Premiums 15,687,595 5,657,467 21,345,062
MCPS Administrative/Trustee Fees 818,882 274,484 1,093,366
Total Expenses   239,612,914 72,394,864 312,007,778
Change in Trust Fund Balance   $7,539,469 ($3,733,130) $3,806,339
* MCPS pays a premium to Kaiser to insure MCPS active employees and retirees who choose this plan option which includes claims incurred by employees and retirees insured with Kaiser.

Depending on the medical plan each employee chooses, there are different co-pay amounts. Based on an updated 2009 cost study and assuming that the current co-pay amounts would double for each medical plan, the estimated savings would total $2,758,011. However, this estimate does not include the impact of health care reform which eliminates co-pays for certain preventive services. The projected savings as a result of increasing co-pays for prescription drugs are being calculated and will be provided when the analysis is completed.

Under the most generous MCPS PPO dental plan, there would be no savings if coverage for orthodontia more closely resembled that provided for federal employees. The MCPS PPO plan provides for $1,000 of coverage. While the MCPS DMO plan has no fee limit, the coverage is based on 50% of the pre-determined contractual cost of $1,600 with the doctors participating in the plan. Therefore, the coverage amount would only total $800.

The less generous federal plan has a limit of $1,500 and the federal premium plan provides for coverage up to $3,000.

39. What would the cost savings be to MCPS if it adopted the same payment schedule for prescription drugs as county employees?

Budget page reference: 6-21

Currently, MCPS active employees on the standard CAREMARK prescription drug plan pay nothing for generics, $10 for preferred brand name drugs, and $25 for non-preferred drugs. However, if someone chooses to purchase a brand name drug when a generic equivalent exists, the individual must pay the generic co-pay plus the difference between the non-preferred brand name drug and the generic drug cost. However, there is no penalty for purchasing a brand name drug that has a generic equivalent if a letter of medical necessity is filed and approved. The county’s active employees pay $10 for generics, $20 for preferred brand name drugs, and $35 for non-preferred drugs.

MCPS offers two different prescription drug plans to retirees; Option A, which has lower co-pays and higher employee premiums, and Option B which has higher co-pays and lower employee premiums.

Based on MCPS experience and projected trend data, MCPS would save approximately $3.8 million if it adopted the same payment schedule for active employees as county employees. When comparing the combined MCPS cost for the Option A and Option B plans for retirees, moving retirees to the current county prescription plan would cost an additional $1.0 million.

  Topic  Question 
A Afterschool Activities 6
Athletics 3,4,5
B Bus Routes - OLA Recommendations 16
C Cable Television in Schools 25
Car Allowances, Mileage 2
Close Schools One Month During Summer - Savings/Impact 14
D Department of Instructional Leadership Support Positions 36
Downcounty and Northeast Consortia Staffing 8
E Elementary Schools Budget - Professional Part-time Salaries & Contractual Services 32
Employee Benefits - Copay changes, orthodontia 38
Employee Benefits - Prescription Drug Plan 39
Entrepreneurial Fund - Stipends 37
Extended Learning Opportunities-Summer Adventures in Learning (ELO SAIL) 26
Equity Training and Development Team 11
ESOL Staffing Ratios 23
F Family and Community Partnerships - Contractual Services/Miscellaneous 34
Foreign Languages Offered at High Schools 20
Foreign Languages Offered at Middle Schools 19
Furlough - Savings for One Day 1
G N/A
 
H High School Plus 28
High School Signature Programs/Academies not in Consortia Schools 15
Hours-based Staffing - Special Education 30
I N/A
 
J Junior Varsity Athletics 4
K Kennedy Cluster Project 7
L Language Immersion Programs 18
Lunch-hour Aides 31
M Middle School Athletics 3
Middle Schools Budget - Budget for Miscellaneous 32
Middle Years Programme 22
N Northeast and Downcounty Consortia Staffing 8
O Office of Legislative Audits (OLA) Recommendations on Bus Routes 16
Outdoor Education 12
P Personal Leave - Cost to add one day 35
Primary Years Programme 21
Professional Learning Communities Institute (PLCI) 10
Q N/A
 
R Richard Montgomery IB Diploma Programme 29
S Special Education Hours-based Staffing 30
Special Education Students in Private Placements - Budget 24
Staff Development Teachers 9
Summer School 13
T N/A
 
U University Partnership Programs 27
V Vocational Education/Career Prep Teachers 33
W Walking Distance 17
X N/A
 
Y N/A
 
Z N/A