The Superintendent's proposed MCPS budget for 2016-17 (pdf - 70MB) maintains the cuts that were made to MCPS Special Programs in 2015-16. As recognized in the Superintendent's proposal, more than 1800 positions have been cut from MCPS since 2007-08, and this includes more than 30 positions in High School special programs countywide, including 5 full-time teaching positions in the Blair Magnet.
Other cuts in the budget have the potential to affect the summer teaching stipend used for the Senior Research Project, and funding for laboratory equipment, computer software, and support for academic extracurricular activities is extremely limited. Over the years, the budget cuts have resulted in the canceling of several elective classes, uncertainty for the Senior Research Project, and an increased reliance on outside funding. Your donations to the Foundation help support many of the resources that have been cut. As discussed in more detail below, the proposed budget cuts cuts are the latest in a series of cuts to the Magnet Program over the past decade.
MCPS Budget Background:
The cuts to the Magnet Program are most obvious in the reduction of the budget for teaching staff. This school year, the Blair Magnet was allocated 4.0 FTE to cover the additional teaching time for 9th period and to offer certain specialty electives with smaller class sizes. A decade ago, this allocation was 9.0 FTE, and as the budget has been cut, retiring teachers were not replaced with new hires, and Magnet teachers are now teaching one more period than they did before the cuts. A few elective classes have also been cut from the curriculum.
Over the past ten years, the countywide budget for High School Special Programs Teachers has been cut by nearly 50%:
MCPS Budget Archive: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/budget/archive.aspx
* Prior to FY2009, the line item in the budget was labeled "Special Program Support."
** Proposed FY2017 Budget (pdf - 70MB), Chapter 1-23
These cuts to the teaching budget for special programs are reflective of cuts throughout the MCPS budget that have affected the Magnet, including reduced funding for laboratory equipment, computer software, extracurricular activities, and summer stipends.
For example, 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. Thanks to advocacy from Magnet parents, students, and alumni, this funding was partially restored for summer 2015, but there is no guarantee that any money will be available this summer or in future years.
The Superintendent's proposed budget is only the beginning of the budget process, and cuts are still possible from the Board of Education, the County Council, or from at the State level. Last year, it was during these later steps in the process that the Special Programs budget was cut. We need your advocacy to protect the Magnet from further cuts and to fight for the restoration of funding that was previously allocated to the Magnet and other Special Programs.
How You Can Help:
In April, the Blair Magnet Foundation Board sent a letter to the County Council about the current MCPS budget. You can read more examples of past advocacy for the Magnet by the Foundation, parents, students, and alumni. Add your voice below or speak out directly to MCPS and County officials:
The 2016-2017 MCPS Budget Process: MCPS provides information on how to make your voice heard in the budget process. Here is the Budget Timeline that lists important dates in the approval of the MCPS Budget.
Write to MCPS Officials: The Superintendent oversees Montgomery County Public Schools, and you can see a list of contacts in the Superintendent's Office. (Interim Superintendent: Larry_Bowers@mcpsmd.org, 301-279-3383)
Contact the Board of Education: The Board of Education has approved the Budget for 2016-17 and will be presenting it to the County Council
Contact the County Council: After the Board of Education finalizes the MCPS Budget, the County Council approves the overall County budget (see Budget Updates). Please contact your County Councilmember (see map) or e-mail the entire council (email@example.com) and tell them to fund MCPS and its Special Programs. 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 budget issues for MCPS are the result of policies in Annapolis, 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 critical it is to fund special programs like the Blair Magnet. 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.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want help or guidance in your advocacy. If you would like to share your testimony as part of a group submission from the Magnet Foundation, please submit the form below:
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