The Montgomery County Board of Education has approved the Superintendent's proposed MCPS budget for 2017-18 (pdf) with certain modifications (mymcmedia.org), and the budget includes cuts to MCPS Special Programs. Specifically, there is a proposed cut to High School Special Programs that may affect the Magnet Program. You can make your voice heard when the Superintendent and County Councilmember Craig Rice attend a forum at Blair on the evening of March 8th. You can also offer feedback through this online form.
The Blair Magnet is currently allocated 4.0 FTE to cover the additional teaching time for 9th period and to offer certain specialty electives with smaller class sizes. An FTE is a Full-Time Equivalent allocation of teaching staff, which covers the salary/benefits for one teacher with a load of 5 classes. A decade ago, this allocation was 9.0 FTE, and as the MCPS budget has been cut, retiring teachers have not been replaced with new hires, and each Magnet teacher is now teaching more classes than they did before the cuts. A few elective classes have also been cut from the curriculum, and some retired teachers have been helping out as substitutes or volunteers to pick up the slack.
Over the past ten years, the countywide budget for High School Special Programs Teachers has been cut by 50%, along with the teaching allocation for the Blair Magnet:
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 FY2018 Budget (pdf), Chapter 1-31
There are indications from MCPS that the proposed cut to Special Programs is directed to programs who are using FTE for teacher release periods, and the Magnet is no longer regularly giving its teachers any release or planning periods. We thus believe that the cuts will affect other schools and programs, but should not affect the Magnet. Nevertheless, MCPS may choose to implement the cut proportionally across all programs, as it has done in the past. And even if the Magnet's budget is not specifically cut, there may be a collateral effect on the Magnet if release periods for other special programs at Blair are cut. As the budget is cut year after year, the burdens on the Magnet add up over time.
How You Can Help:
Make your voice heard: MCPS provides information on how to make your voice heard in the budget process, and you can provide feedback directly through this online form. In your advocacy, please emphasize these points:
You can read examples of past advocacy for the Magnet by the Foundation, parents, students, and alumni.
Attend a Public Forum: In February and March, Superintendent Jack Smith and County Councilmember Craig Rice will be holding public forums on education funding, including a March 8th forum at Blair.
Contact the County Executive: The County Executive will take the Board of Education's recommended MCPS budget and will recommend a full county budget to the County Council on March 15th. You can contact his office to ask him to reverse the cuts to the MCPS budget.
Contact the County Council: The Montgomery County Council will holding hearings in the spring to consider the overall County budget, including the MCPS 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:
Contact MCPS Officials: If cuts are made to the budget, they will be implemented by MCPS officials. Contact MCPS administrators and tell them that the Blair Magnet's budget should not be cut because our teachers are not using release periods, and any cuts would result in canceled classes for students.
Contact the Board of Education: Although the Board of Education has already voted on a proposed budget that includes cuts to MCPS Special Programs, you can contact them to remind them that you support funding for the Blair Magnet:
Contact Maryland State Representatives: Part of the budget issues that MCPS has been experiencing are the result of policies in Annapolis, so to advocate at the state level, you can contact:
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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