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MCPS Budget Cuts in 2015-16

Because of proposed budget cuts from the state level and other funding issues at the County level, the Magnet Program will be impacted by cuts in the MCPS budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which begins this summer.  The cuts will directly affect two aspects of the Magnet Program:
  • The summer stipend for the Magnet Senior Research Project teacher (-$500)
  • Teacher salaries for elective courses having less than full enrollment (-1.0 FTE)
If these cuts are implemented, the Magnet Senior Research Project teacher will have her pay cut over the summer, and the Magnet will not offer Astronomy, 3-D Graphics, Advanced Geometry, or Plate Tectonics/Oceanography as electives in the 2015-16 school year.

MCPS Budget Background:

The budget proposed by Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett was about $80 million less than the budget requested by the MCPS Board of Education (Washington Post).  In reaction to this reduced budget, the MCPS Board of Education and acting Superintendent Larry Bowers have planned to reduce the 2015-16 budget by 400 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, including 370 school-based positions (MCPS Press Release).  UPDATE: The County Council has reached agreement on a budget that falls $54 million short of the MCPS request (Washington Post).

The proposed cut would reduce the 44.1 FTE currently allocated to MCPS High School Special Programs by 7.0 FTE, leaving 37.1 FTE for high school special programs countywide.  The Blair Magnet currently receives 5.0 FTE to cover the additional teaching time for 9th period and to offer certain specialty electives with smaller class sizes.  The proposed cut would reduce the Magnet's allocation by one full-time position to 4.0 FTE, which would still allow the Magnet to maintain 9th period but would eliminate most of the budget for small electives.   Astronomy, 3-D Graphics, Advanced Geometry, and Plate Tectonics/Oceanography are the classes likely to be cut for next year.

In addition, there is no dedicated funding in the MCPS budget to pay a summer stipend for the Magnet Senior Research Project teacher, and this money has been allocated only through special exceptions over the past few years.  With less flexibility in other parts of the budget this year as a result of the proposed cuts, the ffice of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction (AEI) told Blair administrators that there might be no budget for the stipend this summer.  Thanks to advocacy from Magnet parents, students, and alumni, this funding was partially restored to $2,000, but there is no guarantee that any money will be available in future years.

The reductions in budget allocations for Special Programs and for Summer Employment follow several years of cuts, stretching back to 2008-09, when MCPS began to implement significant cuts to the budget overall, and these line items in particular.*  Since 2006-07, the number of teaching positions dedicated to high school special programs has been reduced from 70.4 FTE to 44.1 FTE.  The budget for high school summer employment is a fraction of what it was ten years ago.  These cuts at the countywide level have directly affected the Magnet, which was allocated 9.0 FTE a decade ago, before these cuts began.  The Magnet was able to reduce its teaching budget to 5.0 FTE without significantly affecting the curriculum by requiring every Magnet teacher to teach one more period each day, and certain retiring teachers were not replaced with new hires.  Also, while Magnet teachers were previously paid stipends to plan curriculum over the summer, that budget has been cut entirely, with special exceptions being granted only for the Magnet Senior Research Project teacher.  In the past few summers, she was paid $2,500, but this has now been reduced to $2,000, although she will have to do the same work.

The proposed FY2016 cut in High School Special Programs Teachers to 37.1 FTE would represent a nearly 50% cut in staffing for high school special programs over the past decade.  The cuts to the high school summer employment budget have been even more dramatic, falling from $480,000 to $70,000 over the past decade, an 85% reduction in funding.**

 MCPS Budgets
FY2007 - FY2016
FY2007-08* FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013-14 FY2015 FY2016 (proposed)
High School Teachers, 
Special Programs
70.463.8  50.6 44.1 44.144.1  44.1 37.1
Summer Employment $482,062 $457,018 $255,410 $290,610 $263,475 $147,610 $69,597 $71,539**

* Prior to FY2009, the line items in the budget were labeled "Special Program Support" and "Program Development/SSE."
** The $71,539 amount for FY2016 is the budget proposed by the Superintendent, but it is unclear whether the Summer Employment budget would be reduced if the County Executive's budget cuts were enacted.

How You Can Help:

The Blair Magnet Foundation Board has sent a letter to the County Council.  Please add your voice in support of the Magnet Program!

Tell the County Council to Fully Fund the MCPS Budget: The County Council is finalizing its budget for 2015-16 (see Budget Updates).  Please contact your County Councilmember (see map) or e-mail the entire council (county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov) and tell them to fully fund MCPS and.  In addition to your own representative (or if you don't live in Montgomery County), you can contact:
Tell the Board of Education to Prioritize Special Programs: After the County Council approves the county budget, the Board of Education will take action to approve the MCPS budget (see Budget Timeline).  Please contact your Board of Education member (see list) or e-mail the entire Board (boe@mcpsmd.org) and tell them to prioritize special programs, pointing out how heavily these programs have been cut in the past.  Also, let them know that the cuts to the summer employment budget are affecting the Blair Magnet Senior Research Project.  In addition to your own representative (or if you don't live in Montgomery County), you can contact:
Tell the State to Fund MCPS: Part of the funding for MCPS is currently being withheld from the state budget (Washington Post), so to advocate at the state level, you can contact:
When you write to your representatives, please let them know how important it is to fund our public schools in MCPS, and in particular, how important it is to fund special programs like the Blair Magnet.  Please emphasize that if the MCPS budget is cut, it will affect funding for the Magnet Senior Research Project, one of the most successful high school research programs in the country, having produced 42 Westinghouse/Intel Finalists and over 200 semifinalists since the first Magnet seniors graduated in 1989.  Let them know about the many awards won by Magnet students and the accomplishments of distinguished alumni.  Tell them that Montgomery County's special programs have already faced dramatic cuts over the past decade, and that these programs should not be cut any further.  Tell them why the Magnet Program is important to you and why MCPS should continue to fund the Magnet and other special programs for future generations of students.

If you are willing to share your correspondence, please send copies to board@mbhsmagnet.org.  You may also contact us if you want help or guidance in your advocacy.