by Andrea A. Barrios
On April 4 at 6:30PM, I arrived at Neelsville Middle School for the Fifth Annual Education Budget Forum, which focused on the operational budget that MCPS and Montgomery College were given for the incoming fiscal year of 2020. At the forum, the attendees, including many parents, students and teachers, were given time to talk with each other before the discussion began. We were also given papers that included information about the year 2020 budget process. The driving factors in preparing the FY 2020 operating budget are maintaining successful practices that have led to strong student achievement and identifying and investing in strategies to ensure all students achieve at higher levels. The discussion was led by Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice; Superintendent of MCPS, Dr. Jack Smith; and MC President, Dr. DeRionne Pollard.
The budget forum began with Craig Rice, who chairs the Montgomery County Council Education Committee, discussing the county executive’s recommended operating budget for FY 2020 for MPCS and Montgomery College. He explained that MCPS was given $13.5 million less and Montgomery College was given $3.1 million less to use for the academic year 2020. He explained that this year Montgomery College asked for less money than they were given last year, but still were given $3.1 million less. He explained how reducing the amount of money given to MCPS and Montgomery College was going to affect them because it will not allow schools to expand with new programs. Mr. Rice said that they were not yet sure what they were going to do with a budget cut because it could lead to less financial aid given to students, smaller programs, or other things that can affect students negatively. After hearing this, I was disappointed because the incoming new students at Montgomery College were going to see the effects of this budget cut.
Dr. Smith, MCPS Superintendent Dr. Smith discussed what he sees for the future education at all the MCPS schools. He mentioned how he went around all the schools in MCPS and saw how some of them like Neelsville Middle School were in need of improvement. Similar to Mr. Rice and Dr. Pollard, Dr. Smith was not happy to hear that there was a budget cut because MCPS is on such a good track of expanding and improving their schools to improve student’s education quality that he said that this will decrease the amount of expansion that MCPS was projected to improve.
Then, Dr. Pollard discussed the operational budget for Montgomery College. She started by talking about the diversity of Montgomery College and how Montgomery needs the amount of money that they asked for to improve the school. She believes that high quality facilities drive student success. This is the reason why the money that they asked for is needed to expand our campus and renovate the library, which is crucial to student success.
After all three speakers were done talking, we were given time to ask them questions. Some parents gave their opinions on the things that were needed for the school that their kids attended, such as needed building renovation and introduction of a new program at the school.
The Fifth Annual Education Budget Forum informed us about how the budget is going to affect the school that we attend and future students. The speakers, stayed after to answer more questions, said they were not sure how the budget cut was going to affect the MCPS schools because it has not been decided. As a student attending Montgomery College, I felt sad that there was a budget cut. At the same time, I learned that if as Montgomery College students, we attend events that allow us to support our school, then it will show that we really care about how these decisions are going to affect Montgomery College. That is why I highly recommend Montgomery College students to attend events that affect our college to express the importance of Montgomery College to us, and to show our support for Montgomery College!