Signature Programs suffer budget freeze

By Andrea Mirviss, News Editor

The fates of the Math, Science and Technology Academy (MTS) and International Studies (IS) Academy are unknown as CHS waits for the approval or denial of a budget-freeze exemption request from MCPS.

The requested funds would pay for teacher stipends necessary to run the mentoring programs in the Academies.  Rexahn Pharmaceuticals donated $4,254 to MTS so that the sophomore class could continue its independent experiment this year, but MTS still needs stipend funds for the freshmen MTS experimental design analysis instructional module which takes place after school for eight weeks.

“Our hopes are that we can sustain the Academy during these tough fiscal times by reaching out to the community for support, as in the situation with our community partner, Rexahn Pharmeceuticals,” Signature Program director Barbara Blazer said.

According to Blazer, the Arts Academy will not be closed because it does not require additional funding for after-school programs.  The IS academy, however, requires mentors that cannot be paid for because of the freeze.

“The money required is for the IS advisors [to help students] with their dedicated research study project and Powerpoint presentation,” Blazer said.    “However, as of now, these funds are frozen.”

Blazer is currently attempting to restore some of the funding for the program.

“Although I’ve resubmitted the budget freeze exception request, I have no direction from the people at [MCPS] central office and no official word from the director of Enriched and Innovated Programs at the central office,” Blazer said.

Due to its current budget shortfall, MCPS has made similar cuts to Signature Programs throughout the county.

“Right now Montgomery County is looking at a difficult budget crunch,” MCPS Public Information Office director Dana Tofig said.  “There isn’t a piece of the budget that hasn’t had to take a cut. We are trying to maintain the level of service that we provide for our students, but we have to meet our budgetary percentages.”