Montgomery Council: Schools’ 2014 budget request about $10M over requirement -- Gazette.Net


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Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr’s preliminary request for next budget year, to be announced Tuesday, is about $10 million over the amount the county is required to provide under state law, Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro said Monday.

Although the numbers are preliminary, Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring said the council is hesitant and concerned about approving a budget above the required amount.

“There is concern about the stress and pressure that it will put on the other county agencies,” she said.

Dana Tofig, schools spokesman, declined to confirm the numbers.

The state maintenance of effort law dictates a county fund its school system at the same amount per pupil as the previous year. The county government supplied about $1.42 billion of the school system’s total $2.16 billion budget this budget year, or about 65.7 percent.

The budget for next fiscal year, fiscal 2014, which begins July 1, will be finalized in the spring.

Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, chair of the council’s education committee, said it is possible that the school system is low-balling state aid, but it is too early to tell and it is “very irresponsible to be making comments about a budget we have not seen.”

“I wish my colleagues wouldn’t begin to flex their muscles over numbers they don’t know yet,” Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring.

Starr told parents at a meeting a few weeks ago that the County Council has indicated it will not approve a budget above MOE.

Ervin said in September that the council’s education committee will be monitoring the school system’s spending more carefully, after she and other council members disagreed with its decision this summer to give employees a base pay raise and some employees two step increases.

She said Monday that she and Navarro met with Starr on Friday to take a look at the basics of the budget, which exceeds the minimum by about a half percent of the school system’s total budget, or about $10 million, she said.

Navarro said she was interested in seeing what types of positions would be restored and what problems the superintendent planned to address in the budget.

jbondeson@gazette.net