Following is the testimony given by Robert Monsheimer, Vice-President of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League before the Montgomery County Council on April 7, 2010:
Testimony for FY 2011 Fiscal Budget
I would like to thank the President Floreen and the Council for allowing me to speak tonight on behalf of the FY 2011 proposed budget for Montgomery County Public Schools. While I am speaking as an individual I am currently the Vice President of Montgomery County Taxpayers League and have coordinated my testimony with our leadership. I have been a part of the budget process review for the last 15 years. When I heard the proposed MCPS budget I was very worried about what programs needed to be cut and numerous other losses. Especially with the letters of staff reductions already remitted by the Superintendent.
After reviewing the proposed budget and comparing it with the BOE recommended budget, I am fully in favor of the Executive recommended budget and here is why:
The Budget that the County Executive proposes is 137.5 million lower than the request from MCPS BOE. But let’s talk about what this really means.
A: The BOE added an additional reserve of 37.2 million to cover fines and potentially other shortfalls. These areas do not need to be funded and will not impact student services.
B: The County Executive has asked that we defer the reserve for retiree health benefits for another year. While I think funding is prudent, this reduction of 30.9 million will not change services or classroom size.
C: The County Executive states that no employees will receive a Step Increase this year in his proposed budget, if MCPS is to follow with this logic, then an additional 25.9 million dollars will be eliminated without changing classroom size or the number of teachers.
Thus we now have reduced the 137.5 million to just 43.5 million dollars.
D: The Fiscal FY 2011 budget by the BOE asked for the hiring of over 225 FTE’s, of these positions are not created next year, the savings will be another 14.9 million dollars.
Thus now we see a shortfall of just 28.6 million.
E: Now we have to get down to the way we have managed our business. MCPS employees enjoy a tremendous health benefit where the taxpayers pay between 90 and 95% of the costs. If the School system simply matched the other county employees’ percentage of around 23%, then approximately 30 million could be funded for direct programs.
Thus now we have a surplus of approximately 1.4 million dollars.
F: In the proposed FY 2011 budget, MCPS has plans to initiate a new pre-school pre-K special education program that primarily serves the same population as a private/public partnership has met the needs of Montgomery County for over 30 years. This is not the year to initiate this program and could result in savings of up to 1 million if the old program was left in place.
Thus now the surplus is 2.4 million dollars we can restore nearly 20% of the teaching positions requested to account for growth
So as an individual I am for the education of our children, as a parent advocate I look at the possibility of holding class sizes, full employment for current staff, and possibly a small increase in direct teaching available.
So my question is to you, why did the superintendent not do the math that I just did? Why propose laying off 225 teaching positions rather than make changes to health benefits? .
Other area that should and could be looked at before cutting valuable front-line teaching positions is:
A; Outsource many of the IT functions to a private company
B; Eliminate free life insurance for employees spouse and children, saving nearly $100,000, per year. This change adds 1.5 teaching positions back to the growth model.
C: Review why MCPS requires a $2.86 million increase in workers compensation. Measures should be available to keep this in check and save at least $1.5 million that could be used to fund direct education requirements.
D: Supplies and materials are slated to increase by 3.721 million dollars, of which 2 million was for textbook purchases above current year funding.
So not only did we produce an ability to fund everything requested but we believe as much as 6 million can be really available to restore direct education resources.
My contact information for further information and clarifications is firstname.lastname@example.org, or cell 240 475 6039