The Montgomery County Council tentatively approved a $2.2 billion operating budget Monday for the public school system in fiscal 2014.
The budget includes $18.6 million in salary increases for employees starting in February 2014. The compensation boosts would include step increases for eligible employees and 2 percent increases for others.
At-large council member George Leventhal (D) said that while he supports the schools’ budget this year, along with the salary increases, he urged “caution” and “restraint” for compensation increases in the future.
“There is much merit in providing catch-up,” Leventhal said. But “I don’t think a catch-up year should be interpreted that the good times are here again and that we can provide the substantial increases” seen before the recession.
The county has been worried about how the recession, combined with recent state mandates, will impact its school budget in future. County budget analysts recently estimated that the state’s maintenance of effort law and requirements for local governments to pay more for the cost of teacher pensions will cost Montgomery at least $100 million in the next four years.
The Board of Education’s spending request included a $10 million operating budget increase over what the county is required to spend under maintenance of effort. The $10 million, however, will be paid for through savings from the school system’s fiscal 2013 budget, instead of the county.
The County Council is scheduled to take a final vote on the budget May 23.