MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith Credit: File photo

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith is expecting a “significant” increase in his recommended operating budget for the next fiscal year.

Smith’s recommended operating budget for Fiscal Year 2021 is expected to be released in December. During a school board meeting on Tuesday, Smith said the request “will be pretty significant.”

He did not elaborate.

The increase in needed funding, Smith said, mostly stems from staff contract negotiations that are underway. Contract negotiations with the teachers’ union and support staff union occur every three years.

“Contracts are open with all of our associations, there’s ongoing work with our English Speakers of Other Languages program and many, many different groups of students with needs,” Smith said.

About 90% of each MCPS budget funds staff salaries and benefits.

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The school district is on track to save about $25 million from its current budget for next year, or about 1% of its $2.68 billion budget, according to school board documents.

This year’s MCPS budget is an $80 million increase from the prior year.

The county government initially did not propose fully funding the MCPS budget, as proposed by Smith, but crafted a plan, pooling money from several statewide initiatives. The plan not only fully funded the school system budget, but provided an additional $16 million.

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The school board will review Smith’s proposed budget after it is introduced in December, then send the budget to the County Council and County Executive Marc Elrich for consideration.

The MCPS budget historically has totaled more than half of the county’s overall budget.

About 66% of this year’s school district budget is funded by the county government and 27% is funded by the state. The rest is funded through the federal government or other sources.

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Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com