The Washington Post

Public gets first chance to weigh in on proposed FY2014 budget for Montgomery Co. schools

Several parents asked for increased on-campus security and more money to train teachers as they implement a new curriculum during the first hearing Montgomery County held Thursday night for the fiscal 2014 budget.

Parents who spoke generally supported Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua P. Starr’s proposed fiscal 2014 operating budget, but many asked the Board of Education to restore spending on school resource officer positions, which had been cut in recent years because of the economy.

School resource officers “need to be reinstated in all schools based on the recent events in Connecticut,” said Clarksburg Cluster parent Seenu Suvarna.

Gun control and school safety have taken center stage in recent national policy debates after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

Earlier this week, the Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution that would accelerate installation of secure access doors in elementary schools. Forty-seven elementary schools don’t have the buzz-in door systems yet but are expected to have them installed by the end of June or sooner.

Parents also supported additional spending that would help train teachers as they prepare to implement new county curriculum designed to meet more rigorous education standards adopted by the state.

Several employee groups also gave testimony at the meeting, urging the school system to put more counselors in elementary schools and increase the number of school psychologists.

Starr has proposed a $2.22 billion budget for fiscal 2014 — a 2.3 percent, or $48.95 million, increase over the current fiscal year’s spending.

Starr’s proposal is $10 million over the county’s minimum spending requirement — less than half a percent more than maintenance of effort. The additional $10 million would add or restore about 90 full-time positions in the public school system, with at least 52 of them deployed in the district’s 38 middle schools. There would also be additional spending for instrumental music teachers.

The next hearing is at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Carter Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Dr., Rockville. The hearing will also air live at or on MCPS TV.

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.


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