Montgomery County School System’s Operating Budget Cut By $97 Million

Following last months announcement of  Montgomery County’s final operating budget for FY2011, the County’s school system is  weighing their options on how to operate with a $97 million funding cut.   The Washington Post reports:

Taken as a whole, the cuts will be felt most deeply by teachers, as professional development and supplementary services are cut and salaries frozen.

Average class sizes will increase by one, as the school system eliminates 252 teaching positions, and other programs also face the ax as the system deals with a 4.4 percent budget cut next year, along with an expected 2 percent increase in enrollment.

“It’s not what any of us want,” said Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill (Bethesda-Chevy Chase). She said that she expected the following year to be tough, too. “We haven’t come out of the valley yet.”

The school board will vote on the final budget Tuesday.

Some of the worst cuts that had been on the table were averted, such as a proposal to eliminate bus transportation to optional education programs outside attendance zones, such as magnet schools. Nervous parents had said that changes of that sort could threaten the viability of the programs.

“Class sizes is a huge change in direction,” said Larry Bowers, the school system’s chief operating officer. He said that he could not remember a time, certainly not within the past 40 years, when the school system had to contend with an outright cut to its budget.

Bowers expects to see 380 positions eliminated and 20 teachers to be laid off as an additional effect of the budget cut.

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