A process fraught with tense discussions and heated public debate ended Tuesday afternoon as the Montgomery County Board of Education took a final vote to adopt next year’s $3.1 billion school operating budget.
“Today marks the completion of the annual operating budget development process,” announced Superintendent Monifa McKnight, who added she was proud the district was able to “get to a point we’re proud of.”
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hull said despite the challenging nature of this year’s budget, the district was able to secure additional funds to support math and literacy, English as a Second Language and staff recruitment and retention—areas of high priority to the school board throughout the process.
In May, the County Council approved $3.165 billion in funding for Montgomery County Public Schools—nearly half of the county’s entire budget for next year, but still $74.3 million less than the school board’s initial February request. Inflation, higher projected enrollment, salary increases and post-pandemic exacerbations are all forcing the school district to make difficult budget decisions now that the final budget has been approved.
The first of these challenging discussions occurred two weeks ago at a school board work session, where board members discussed budget priorities and concerns in detail—including the September 2025 expiration date on $387.2 million in one-time post-pandemic assistance provided to the school district by the federal government via Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER).
The conversation continued immediately after Tuesday’s vote, with school board members peppering MCPS central office staff with questions about how money is going to be allocated to fund budget priorities and which items might face the chopping block as ESSER funds dry up.
“Our budget for next year will be equally challenging if not more because as we all know, the ESSER funding dries up and we will have to make critical decisions about things that we’ve come to consider normal,” board president Karla Silvestre (At-large) said during the meeting, specifically citing tutoring, summer school and social workers.
A memorandum from the office of the superintendent including the final approved budget packet can be viewed on the school board’s website.
The school board also voted unanimously to approve the newly negotiated contracts with its three employee unions, a decision met with resounding applause from the audience. All three agreements will take effect July 1.
The Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP) contract runs through June 2025, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500 contract runs through June 2026 and the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) contract runs through June 2027.