The first of two public hearings on a $2.59 billion spending plan for Montgomery County Public Schools is set to take place Thursday evening.

The event offers people the chance to comment on the proposed fiscal 2019 operating budget prepared by MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith. The budget as drafted would increase spending by about 2.7 percent compared to the prior year and add about 165 positions to the school system.

The budget plan, which Smith presented last month, must first pass muster with the Montgomery County Board of Education before heading to the County Council for consideration.

Smith has said his proposal devotes resources to expanding career learning opportunities and dual-language programs and to keeping up with enrollment growth across the school system.

The proposal also eliminates about 72 staff positions, most of them in central services. Officials will use attrition and staff reassignments to achieve the position cuts, and no one will lose a job, Smith said.

The public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the MCPS central administration building, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville.

MCPS has reported that there’s a waiting list to comment at the meeting, but anyone can attend and watch. The hearing also will be livestreamed here on the MCPS website.

The second hearing is scheduled for Jan. 10.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at