BOE Approves FY â€™13 Budget, Agreements with Employees
The Montgomery County Board of Education approved a $2.16 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 operating budget for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) on June 14. The budget represents the minimum increase in local funding allowed by state law.
According to a statement, the FY 2013 operating budget allows MCPS to keep up with its continued growth but includes no major new initiatives or programs. The budget also allows MCPS to provide a compensation increase to its employees while asking them to pay more out-of-pocket expenses for health care services.
The $2.16 billion budget is a $73.2 million increase from the current yearâ€™s operating budget, a growth of about 3.5 percent. However, $27.2 million of that increase is for state teacher pension costs that were shifted to local school boards. Additional revenue approved by the state legislature will fully offset the added pension costs for FY 2013. If the money for the pension shift is excluded, the operating budget increases by $46 million, or 2.2 percent, over this fiscal year.
The Board also approved agreements for FY 2013 with its three employee associations â€” the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), the Service Employees International Union Local 500 (SEIU) and the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP). Under the agreement, all employees hired before Feb. 1, 2012, will receive a compensation increase in FY 2013. The increase averages out to 3.4 percent per employee. Employees are being asked to pay higher out-of-pocket copayments for prescription drugs and doctor visits.
The increase in compensation will cost about $47 million, but about $27 million of that cost is offset by savings realized from higher-than-expected turnover â€” mostly retirements â€” and the ability to hire new employees at lower-than-expected salary levels.
State revenue for the budget will increase by $28.5 million compared to the current fiscal year under a budget passed by the Maryland State Legislature in May.
For more information, visit www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org.
Local Students Named Semifinalists in Essay Contest
This yearâ€™s Maryland Municipal League (MML) â€śIf I Were Mayorâ€ť essay contest drew winning entries from two local students. Gaithersburg residents and fourth graders Claire Oâ€™Halloran and Christopher Yue were each named state semifinalists for their essays, in which they describe how they would meet the challenges they see in their communities.
The MML received more than 2,000 entries from students throughout the state. One winner and four semifinalists were selected from each of the 11 regional districts.
In her essay, Oâ€™Halloran, a Kentlands resident who attends St. Elizabeth School in Rockville, wrote about the importance of safety and preparing for critical emergencies and natural disasters. She described free services the city could offer, as well as â€śProtection Patrolsâ€ť with city employees who would provide these services. Her ideas also included introducing a new cable channel to run shows with advice on how to keep citizens safe at home.
Named the Rockville â€świnnerâ€ť of the contest, Oâ€™Halloran was named honorary â€śMayor for the Dayâ€ť on May 18. She and a friend were given a tour of City Hall and the City Council chambers and received a police escort to her school. She also toured the Public Works facility on Gude Drive and the Croyden Creek Nature Center before having a private lunch with Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and her staff. Oâ€™Halloran read her essay at the June 18 Rockville City Council meeting.
Yue, a student at Diamond Elementary School, was selected as a semifinalist from among 117 essays submitted by students at Gaithersburg area schools. In his essay, he focused on three things he would accomplish if he were mayor: stopping pollution to create clean and healthy environments for both people and animals; making parks bigger to provide more space to play; and trying to prevent crimes so citizens would have safe places in which to live.
Yue read his essay and received a certificate of recognition at the June 4 Gaithersburg Mayor and Council meeting.
Brothers Club Helps LPMS Students Connect
Guidance counselor David Earley started the Brothers Club at Lakelands Park Middle School (LPMS) a few years ago to help seventh and eighth grade boys feel more connected to their school.
â€śIf kids feel connected to their school, they do better academically and socially,â€ť said Earley.
The club meets once each month to discuss a variety of topics surrounding the importance of education and doing well in life. Often their meetings include visits from guest speakers such as local entrepreneurs, government workers and firefighters.
â€śThe guest speakers help to enforce the point that doing well in life is very important,â€ť Earley said.
Thirty boys were members of the club this school year and enjoyed field trips to the University of Maryland and the Edison Center at Edison High School. At Edison, the boys explored careers in technology and vocational trades.
â€śThe trip to the University of Maryland was important because it reinforced the idea that educational opportunities are viable and important,â€ť said Earley.
â€śI liked visiting the University of Maryland because it was interesting experiencing campus life for a day. Brothers Club gives kids a chance to see that grades are important and, if you work hard, anyone can do well. No excuses,â€ť said LPMS eighth grader Leroy Purdie III.
â€śGrowing up, it was important to me to be around positive people. Peer pressure can be either a positive or negative force in the lives of these young men,â€ť said Earley. â€śBuilding positive peer relationships is important to the boysâ€™ future success.â€ť
Earley will be developing the Brothers Club activities for the 2012-2013 school year over the summer.
â€” By Laurie Enceneat