Superintendent: MCPS Must Live ‘Closer to the Margins’ To Meet Leggett’s Savings Target

Council members set to discuss plan to reduce school system spending by $25 million


Published:

Superintendent Jack Smith

VIA MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

A legislative analysis says the Montgomery County school system seems on track to meet the $25 million savings target set by the county executive in response to a budget crunch.

On Wednesday, a County Council committee focused on education will discuss the Montgomery County Public Schools spending cuts. While school officials haven’t formally communicated with the council, initial signs are promising that they’ll be able to hit the $25 million mark, a staff report shows.

During a financial briefing last week, the school board learned that MCPS is already projected to have a fiscal year-end savings of $19 million. By staying frugal, the school system should be able to find the remaining $6 million in savings by the fiscal year’s end on June 30, staff members said.

“My goal is that the effect be as far from the student desk, the teacher desk and the classroom as possible,” MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith told the board.

Nicola Diamond, chief financial officer, said the school system has looked to cut costs from MCPS central services and reduce spending on nonessential items. For instance, MCPS could put off some purchases to the following year or reduce discretionary spending on extra staff development and conference attendance, she said.

The school system will continue filling positions as teachers retire or otherwise leave the system, Diamond said. But the cuts will not be painless.

“It will require that we live closer to the margins. That we not do some things that we have typically or traditionally done,” Smith told school board members.

County Executive Ike Leggett this month sent a memo asking MCPS and other county departments and agencies to tighten their belts in light of the county’s $120 million operating budget shortfall. His proposed cuts totaled $60 million.

Smith in December presented his fiscal 2019 MCPS budget plan, which anticipated that the school system would carry forward more than $14 million from the prior year. Now that they’ve received Leggett’s memo, school officials will adjust the budget plan where necessary, Diamond said.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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