Thursday, May 19, 2011

MCPS budget in the GREEN!

The Chart below was used today at the Montgomery County Council's discussion of the FY12 budget.  Here is an explanation of the chart from Councilmember Roger Berliner and the chart. should be noted that even though the Council has had to make tremendously difficult decisions regarding the school system's budget, MCPS's total tax-supported budget as it stands now is aincrease of $31 million over its FY11 tax-supported budget.  I believe the following chart, that represents the percentage change of agency budgets FY09-11 and the County Executive's recommendation for FY12, is a compelling illustration of the commitment this Council has demonstrated to our school system during a time of unparalleled economic downturn...

% Change Agency & Department Budgets FY09-12
County Executive Recommended on March 15, 2011 for FY12

First columns in green:  MCPS, then Montgomery College.

In red, from left to right:  Police, Fire, Montgomery County Govt.,Transit Services, MNCPPC, HHS, Recreation, Transportation and Libraries.


  1. Ooooo, great chart! Now, can we see the one where they ONLY include what the county has contributed to MCPS, without the boost of state aid to education? My understanding is that local funding for MCPS have been decreasing for almost a decade.

  2. The Council addressed the spin that is being circulated on the MCPS budget. You can watch the replay of today's (May 19, 2011) Council session and hear their response.

    Reality is that the Council has funded the MCPS budget by $576,800,000 over and above the Maintenance of Effort requirement since FY 01.

  3. Yes, but that $576,800,000 includes the state funding. Take that out and let's see how much COUNTY money has been allocated to the schools.

  4. Who cares? The MCPS budget has been in the GREEN for years. Flush with funds. So much money they don't even put out major procurements for competitive bids!

    The MCPS budget has been INCREASING - and has doubled since 2000. Even when enrollment DECREASED, the MCPS budget got an INCREASE.

    By the way, where ARE the millions in E-Rate Rebate funds that MCPS collects every year? Money that is from the federal government and is to be brought to the County Council for appropriation under Maryland LAW? When has that happened?

    The unions sit at the secret budget table and are more than happy to help MCPS hide funding. That's their choice.

  5. Am I to understand that what MCEA say is "spin" but what the County Council says is "fact"?

  6. So MCEA "spins", but the County Council doesn't? They hand down the unadulterated gospel truth?

  7. For those math challenged, yes the MCPS enrollment has DECREASED in recent years and the budget still INCREASED.
    Those are facts.

    Use all the name calling you want, it doesn't change the facts.

    2004 - 139,203
    2005 - 139,337
    2006 - 137,798
    2007 - 137,745

    Per pupil funding

    FY04 $10,644
    FY05 $12,108
    FY06 $12,549
    FY07 $13,446

  8. Reading the post will yield the name of the Council member that provided the graph that was used by the County Council yesterday in their budget discussion. The graph was specifically called up by Council member George Leventhal.

  9. Janis, where's your data beyond '07?

  10. Who is name-calling? You accused the MCEA of spin. Are you claiming that the County Council is not spinning data?

  11. I would also be remiss if I didn't use this opportunity to ask the Parent's Coalition to join WITH us to ensure that funding gets to the students, classrooms and teachers. I you would just embrace us teachers as people who often agree with your position, WANT transparency, WANT accountability, WANT what is best for your kids! But you refuse to come on board. Think how much power the teachers and parents of Montgomery County if they joined together! But, no, you all seem to harbor quite a distaste for the MCPS professionals, which I happen to think is a shame.

  12. Well you got that backwards! The MCEA Union sits at the Secret MCPS Budget Table. The Union officers sign confidentiality agreements to NOT discuss the details of the PUBLIC budget.

    That's not transparency and its not accountability and its not what's best for students.

    That's one ship that is sinking this county. No one should want to get on board that ship.

  13. To Ireland: were you a teacher when Jerry Weast proposed to phase out and close the secondary learning centers in the fall of 2006? A whole lot of teachers told us they thought it was a bad idea....but where was MCEA when we were organizing, marching, petitioning, etc., to try and preserve this resource for students? They were getting their big raise that next year, that's where, One teacher told me that they had SPECIFICALLY been told to "shut up" about the Learning Center issue because they didn't want to jeopardize the raises. We parents got no help then from MCEA to preserve this vital special education option..and guess what. Students who would have been in the program are failing, at least that's what the OSA report showed, based on the MSA scores.
    So now, you want OUR help? While the folks in the Carver center spend MILLIONS on high tech toys and plastic grass?
    If MCEA wanted what was best for our kids they wouldn't have sold out students with disabilities in 2006. Period.

  14. Okay. So, if I tell you I wasn't a teacher in 2006, does that make my question more valid? Do I get to ask if you believe that MCEA spins and the County Council doesn't? If I tell you I'm a relatively young teacher who is just beginning my career, does that somehow change my point? How many people are employed by MCPS? Thousands. Yet you presume to judge each of us by the actions of a minute few. You choose to attack and alienate rather than try listening. Why would any teacher question their own leadership when the opposition spews such vitriol and sarcasm? You miss an enormous opportunity to truly direct change with your bullheaded alienation of potential allies of that change. Its a shame, it really is.

  15. Enrollment and budget data is right where it has been for some time:

    And all of that information is available on the MCPS website. The facts speak for themselves.
    MCPS Enrollment has fluctuated while the Operating Budget has doubled.

  16. Let's see, the County Council put out facts, the Apple folks put out hysteria. Readers can figure out which is which.

  17. You want facts from MCEA? How about this FACT?

    I suppose that's just more "spin" from MCEA.

  18. You bet. That's the best spin yet. As if taxpayers are "only" local. No, actually Montgomery County citizens pay state and federal taxes too! What a concept. Unless there are aliens from another planet paying state and federal taxes the MCPS budget comes from what human beings contribute to local, state and federal taxes. It's us, one way or another.

    And how sad to put out a chart pretending that the MCPS budget has been in some sort of decline. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Transparency? Not so much.

  19. Here's the County Council chart showing the actual dollars that have gone to MCPS over the last 10 years.

    Line goes up, not down.

  20. We paid for Starr's attorney to read the contract for him.

    Look how generous we are!

    That's the Apple Ballot folks at work at the Secret Budget Table - making the perks happen. That's a CHOICE to spend money on perks for administrators over classrooms.

  21. Thank you for the work you do, Janis, and I esp appreciate this post about the school budget. As the wife of a very hardworking councilmember, I'm privileged (if that's the word ;-) to hear all the details that aren't included in the short coverage that the media allows. The reality is that the councilmembers are responsible for balancing the budget for the entire county, not just one part. The fact that the schools are complaining during such a difficult time indicates to me (this is NOT my spouse's view) how spoiled they've become. Tough decisions have to be made, but these decisions DON'T have to come at the cost of the students--the council has NO jurisdiction over how MCPS spends its money. So when i hear administrators, teachers, etc. complain about how this small increase (yes increase) in their budget is going to HURT students... well, that's a decision THEY are making. It doesn't have to be that way.

  22. @Staci -

    Do you think it was wise of you to post this? Thanks for referring to us as "spoiled." I'll be sure to send that message to all of my colleagues.

  23. Nice threat anonymous 2:51 PM (

    As much as you might like to bully everyone to prevent budget facts from coming out, the facts are coming out and citizens are being educated.

  24. Janis, you really not posting facts. Nor are you truthful. Your whining is tiresome. There is no "secret" budget process. The fact that YOU aren't involved in the process doesn't make it a secret.

  25. Janis, still don't think it's a good look for schools (and the people that work in them) to be called spoiled! There are a lot of hardworking professionals in these buildings.

  26. Wow, are you uninformed. You bet there is a secret budget table and the MCEA Union has a seat at the table along with the other unions and MCCPTA. This has been going on for years and Superintendent Weast talks about it all the time.

    Time to catch up on your facts. One of the Board of Education "innovations" under Superintendent Jerry Weast was to move all of the budget discussions away from the Board of Education table to a secret group that meets out of the public eye. Worse than that, your Union officials are sworn to secrecy and can't even tell their members what is discussed at those meetings!

    The Union President comes right out and tells Union members that he is at these meetings.

    He just won't tell his members what is discussed!

  27. So it's out of the public eye. So what? The public doesn't get to negotiate budgets. We elect our representatives to do that and we can vote for those we think will represent our interests. We then can vote for or against the negotiated contract. That's how it works.

  28. It's the Union's Budget -

    From MCPS Bulletin:

    "The proposed FY 2011 budget was developed in full partnership with our three employee associations—MCAAP/MCBOA, MCEA and SEIU Local 500—and with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA), who all share the goal of providing a world-class education to all MCPS students."

    “MCEA’s involvement in the budget process is key—it allows the educators of MCPS a direct means of influencing the formulation of the budget,” says Doug Prouty, president of MCEA. “This helps to ensure that resources are directed where they will be most beneficial for students, teachers, and those who support their work.”

    From MCCPTA Newsletter - Announcing the budget meetings:

    "MCCPTA has been invited again to participate in
    the MCPS budget planning process with the
    employee unions and various MCPS staff, as MCPS
    puts together its capital improvement and operating
    budgets. The meetings begin in September and run
    through the next few months."

    Where are these meetings held? Where are the minutes of these meetings? Why are they held outside of the public view? Why isn't the public allowed to see how the public funds are being spent and allocated?

  29. So what 3:31 PM? The public doesn't have any representation at these secret budget meetings.

    Well, unless the unions want to let the public start voting on the union officers? You want to set that up?

    Last I checked, the public funds the public school system. You are advocating that the public has no right to know how the public dollars are spent?

    Really? What form of government would that be?

  30. No representation for the public at budget meetings? As 3:31 correctly stated, we elect representatives to represent us. Hello...representative democracy! The "public" is also represented at the budget meetings by the MCCPTA. So sorry you're not invited Janis. Your representative is there for you. By the way...are you interested in going to budget meetings for public safety officers?

  31. Not even close to a representative democracy. MCCPTA is a membership only organization. Dues are required. Just like the Unions are membership only organizations. The citizens of Montgomery County have no elected officials at the Secret Budget Table.

    Now, do you want Montgomery County citizens to be able to be Union members and elect the Union officials? Do you want the Union officials to run on Countywide ballots that the public can vote on?

    No invitation to budget discussions should ever be needed by the public when the public budget is discussed. The MCPS budget should be discussed by the body that is responsible for it, the Board of Education. And the discussions should be held in the PUBLIC as they have always been in the PAST. (Little history lesson for those new to democracy.)

    Participation by the Unions and MCCPTA in Secret Budget Meetings subverts the public process with the goal of keeping the decisions CONFIDENTIAL.

    Teachers? You are paying the price for those secret deals with increased class size.

    The administrators union thanks you for your cooperation in protecting their jobs and perks.

  32. No elected officials at the budget table? What do you call members of the Board of Education? Last I looked each and every one of them is elected to their position. Care to admit you're wrong Janis?

  33. Really, you think teachers are "spoiled"? You deserve the schools you'll get.

  34. Dear Staci,
    It is interesting that as a wife of a "very hard-working council member" you chose to call all the teachers "spoiled" because they are all arguing that the contract they ratified should be honored. The agreement stipulated that the health care benefits and pensions would remain untouched in return for no step increases or COLA's for another 2 years.

    PLEASE try that the next time you sign a contract of any kind. Agree to the terms of the contract andthen come back and say that "times are difficult" so you need to pay the contractor LESS than the agreed upon amount.

    Has your hard-working husband told you that the council has taken state funding for education and re-routed it to fund other shortfalls in the overall budget? Has he told you that even though MCPS employees pay a smaller percentage of their health care costs than other county employees, the MCPS health care costs the county LESS than the other agencies.

    All of this is based on the OLO report that was created by the county government. You should take a look at that report because of "all the details that aren't included in the short coverage that the media allows."

  35. All of this reminds of the utter nonsense that takes place in Congress with the Democrats and Republicans arguing their talking points with NO ONE acknowledging the other side has some legitimate points. Oh and the namecalling by an elected official's spouse. Also rather reminds me of how we've become so antagonistic towards each other.

    Are the budgets negotiated differently than before and away from public meetings? Yes. Is there more input from various stakeholders throughout the process. Yes.

    However, the BOE is still the elected body that approves the budget. It is representiative democracy.

    Is the county contributing more dollars to education over time? Without question. But the state and federal government are contributing more as well.

    Is the County Council playing a shell game by taking $60 some million from the state for education and then reducing their planned contribution to MCPS? Without question. Do they have a right to? Yes, it's called representative democracy. Same as the BOE approving the MCPS budget once money is allocated.

    The real question is will the BOE reduce classroom programs AND the health care benefits of employees OR will they choose to take the entire cut out of the classroom.

    Going to be interesting to watch. The employees have a contract that is supposed to protect their health care percentages for several more years. They traded this in a vote for giving up a raise.

  36. Oh good grief, Anonymous (and I can't believe I'm even responding to someone called "Anonymous")... did I say that teachers aren't hardworking? Of course they are. Did I say that they don't deserve a raise? Shoot, we're all hardworking; we're all deserving. But to EXPECT more than can be given, to DEMAND more than other deserving public servants are being given, and to threaten unsavory ways to get it... well, what would you rather call it? Tough times=tough decisions everywhere. S'all I'm sayin.

  37. @ 10:59

    "Are the budgets negotiated differently than before and away from public meetings? Yes."


    "Is there more input from various stakeholders throughout the process. Yes."


  38. @ Staci

    We have absolutely no information that says any of these anonymous comments are from actual MCPS teachers. Please don't assume they are.

    This blog gets lots of comments and the vast majority of people have no problem using their name.

    Real MCPS teachers that contact us have no problem talking about the MCPS budget. They have great concerns about the secrecy of the process and great concerns about the manipulation that impacts their classrooms before cutting the fat from the budget.

  39. @ 9:10 - Sorry. The Board of Education isn't at the secret budget meetings. That is exactly what Board member Laura Berthiaume has complained about for two years in a row.

    Teachers - if these even are teachers - can't possibly be this clueless about the MCPS budget process. Their union leaders have a seat at the secret budget table and are thrilled with their inside position.

    Why, exactly what did the past Union President brag about at this evening's party for Jerry Weast? Anyone want to relay what she was so proud of...and here's a hint - it involved spending taxpayer dollars for perks and not classroom supplies.

  40. "Is there more input from various stakeholders throughout the process. Yes."


    Well this is a case of one side distorting the story again. In years past the budget was created by the Supt. with input from the BOE. Now it's created by the Supt. with input from the three unions, the PTA and ultimately voted on by the Boe. So the process went from 2 groups being involved to 6. Clearly that is more involvement from the stakeholders. You just can't argue anything else and have it be true. 6 is always greater than two, even for those you insult by calling them "math challenged".

  41. Wrong again. In years past the MCPS budgets were discussed and voted on - in DETAIL at the Board of Education table in PUBLIC. That puts tens of thousands of people in the process, not 6. The budget decisions weren't secrets. They were public acts by the elected body. It was a transparent process that showed the public what was being traded away or what was being added.

    The closed Secret Budget Table today puts LESS stakeholders at the table.

    And what did the Media Specialists have to say about the current process? Didn't talk to them did you? That's OK, we have.

  42. And now the reality, MCPS budget to increase for FY12.

  43. Janis, in what school districts locally are the school budgets discussed publicly as you claim MCPS's used to be? Fairfax? Howard? Baltimore? Frederick? What is the difference in the ways these other jurisdictions engage in the budget process?

  44. In school systems all over the country! It's called the public process.

    Here's an example of live blogging from the Baltimore County Public Schools budget discussions that happened this week at the public Board of Education meeting. Look! Actual discussion of budget details.

    Just one example of what goes on all over the USA - just not in Montgomery County.

  45. And out of the mouths of the union representatives - budget discussions are a SECRET - even from members.

    That's the Apple folks choice - no public discussion of budget decisions. And who pays the price for this secrecy? School based teachers and staff.

  46. So Montgomery County is the only school system that has such a budget process? All other systems in the country publicly discuss every detail of the budget proposals?

    Do tell.

  47. Paula Bienenfeld said...
    MCPS teachers, many if not most of whom do not live in Montgomery County, have the say through their elected MCEA officials, what the budget will be and how the money is to be divvied up. MCPS teachers who don't even live in our county, are the ones calling the shots. We hear on this blog from many MCPS teachers who claim they don't know what their own leadership is doing. That is pretty sad. Teachers claim, and most communities expect, that they are role models for our children and our communities; yet they won't even speak up and participate in their form of 'representative' democracy: the MCEA. Teachers, you have MCEA elections, you are at the secret budget meetings. You are at the secret meetings where the new superintendent was chosen. For all I know, you may have been represented at the superintendent contract negotiations. Why not ask your MCEA representatives these questions? "Even teachers don't know what is being traded away..." Well, find out. Demand it of your 'elected representatives.' Then post it here on this blog which is the only place in this county where people from the entire county have the freedom to hold these discussions.

  48. Budget discussion has moved to: