As 2014 draws to a close, plans for a new fiscal year are already underway. Earlier this month, Dr, Starr, superintendent of MCPS, released his recommendations for the 2016 Fiscal Year. Contrary to the popular belief that educational spending is being reduced, Dr. Starr’s recommendations are almost entirely comprised of increases. The estimates of the spending of different departments have also increased for the 2016 fiscal year. The recommended increase, an 103.6 million dollars, stems from the influx of students, rising costs, strategic enhancements, and previously negotiated agreements. There will be over 2000 more students in MCPS next year compared to now, and as prices of everything from transportation to food increase, MCPS has no choice but to increase spending as well.
One of MCPS’s most prominent ongoing goals is to close the gap in education quality. Dr. Starr recommends the continuation of the programs that MCPS has already put in place for schools in low-income areas and also an increase of counselors in those schools to meet the social/ emotional needs of students.
The recommendations not only seek to improve the lives of students closer to the poverty line, but also those who require special education. Dr. Starr wishes to add almost one hundred positions to the special education staff, and make other strategic investments to serve the students with Individualized Education Programs.
Since technology is progressing at a rapid rate, additional funding is also recommended to change and adapt what students learn and teachers teach to meet society’s demands. Ideally, additional funding and staffing will also be added to help promote the curriculum for students, especially students with disabilities.
The most eminent reason behind the increases in spending, however, is not the changes in programs and services, but rather the change in the amount of services needed. MCPS’s student population has increased by over two thousand students each year, a trend that is expected to continue. To sustain current programs, an increase in budget is unavoidable.
Along with the increase in students population, the number of students in need of English as a second language programs also increased. An increase of 42 positions are hoped to be added. Since there are more families in need of translation services now also, an increase of 3 translators are also pending.
As MCPS, long known for its excellence, embarks upon yet another year, hopes are high for the future. Local, state, and federal governments are expected to provide more funding than allocated in years past, helping to make Dr. Starr’s recommendations a reality.
Article by the MoCo Student staff writer Fonda Shen of Richard Montgomery High School