Budgetpalooza Approaching: MCPS Meeting To Take Place This Month


Graphic by Griffin Alaniz

Graphic by Griffin Alaniz
Graphic by Griffin Alaniz

The third annual Budgetpalooza at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center will gather students, teachers, administrators and parents to learn about MCPSa�� operating budget on Feb. 26 from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Organized by the Montgomery County Civic Federation (MCCF), Montgomery County Tax Pay ers League and the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County, Budgetpalooza will give the community a chance to make their own suggestions as to where they think the school system’s money should be allocated and to ask questions regarding the MCPS budget. Anyone can sign up to present a chapter of the budget through a link to signupgenius.com on the MCCF homepage.

“We decided to start [Budgetpalooza] because of the enormous amount of money that is being spent on the school system a�� half of our county budget,” MCCF President Paula Bienenfeld said.

Other than Budgetpalooza, the Board of Education does not go through and have a public discus sion about the budget, Bienenfeld said. Therefore, many people take advantage of this opportunity to be educated about the budget. This years’ proposal is for $2.4 billion.

“It is important for the public to know what’s really in such an enormous, enormous budget. It is a huge amount of our money that people contribute to with their taxes, so we want to make sure it’s well spent,” Bienenfeld said.

According to the MCPS website, the 2015-2016 budget is designed “to manage its continued growth, narrow achievement gaps and prepare students for the future.” Enrollment in MCPS is cur rently 154,230 students, which is an increase of nearly 3,000 students from last school year.

This requires MCPS to consider building new schools and add on to existing schools in the future. The budget also supplies each school with appropriate staffing and materials required for instruction. This also includes money for new technology as MCPS begins to modernize all of their schools across all grade levels.

One of the proposals RHS Principal Billie-Jean Bensen wonders about is if the resource teachers will get an extra planning period effective next year. According to Bensen, there is a formula for how schools get staffing and how a portion of the budget goes towards MCPS resource teachers. The re source teachers at RHS currently teach at least four classes, so the new budget may reduce the number of classes they teach.

“They could do more with helping their department and doing stuff around school,” Bensen said.

Some of the other important allocations of the additional $103.6 million in spending from the recommended budget include: $8.2 million “in strategic priority enhancements that are focused on improving student performance while narrowing achievement gaps” and $23.3 million “that will be needed to replace the one-time revenue source the Montgomery County Council used to fund retiree benefits in the FY 2015 budget,” according to the MCPS website. This spending will all be discussed at the upcoming meeting.

The County Executive and County Council will be voting on the various proposed budgets from both the Superintendent and the Board of Education. The official budget is expected to be released to the public sometime this May.

All members of the MCPS public are invited to this event to share their opinions about the bud get. The event will be located 4805 Edgemoor Lane in Bethesda, one block from the Bethesda Metro.