County should place priority on teachers

In a county known for the academic strength and dedication of its students, a budget plan for the coming year has been created that favors the priorities of MCPS executives and non-student related groups rather than those of teachers and students.

It is far from surprising that CHS and other Montgomery County schools will have to deal with budget cuts due to the economic strain placed on the entirety of the nation, but the unsettling issue of this situation lies within the budget plan itself which is full of appropriations of an already small budget toward frivolous aspects of the school’s needs, a misrepresentation of statistics leading to a misrepresentation of the needed money and an inadequate amount of money given to CHS in comparison to other schools.

The most important job of a school is to meet the needs of the individual students to foster academic strength, but the school budget proposed for the upcoming school year has completely failed at focusing on the components that adequately support the students.

According to the Churchill Cluster Testimony against the proposed 2011 operating budget, while the funding toward the communications and family outreach budget has been increased over 2800 percent from 2003 to 2011, the amount of the total number of MCPS staff positions, such as teachers who directly impact the academic success of the students, allowed by the budget has only increased by 12.75 percent. With an already dwindling budget, it makes no sense to grant the communications and family outreach programs, which consist of frivolous activities such as taking parents on tours of MCPS bus depots and food preparation facilities, with more money, attention and financial support than the teachers.

The proposed budget also reflects a complete misrepresentation of class size within MCPS, leading to ignorance toward the dire situation of out of control class sizes and a lack of attention to a necessary increase in teaching staff.

According to the proposed 2011 budget, the “projected average” of students per class in the coming year is 25.7. This hardly makes sense since several high school English classes are listed at 28 students while other are at 32. Not to mention that during this current semester alone approximately 80 percent of CHS classes have more than 26 students, and of the 300 Honors and AP courses, almost all have the maximum number of students.

According to the Churchill Cluster Testimony, the misleading average was concocted due to the averaging of the much smaller special education classes with the regular education classes, resulting in an optimistically low overall average class size.

In order to create an improved budget, the county must also put more money towards teacher salaries.

According to the testimony, while the number of MCPS executives, administrators and other support personnel who do not directly impact the students has increased by 513.6 percent from the recommended budget of 2003 to 2001’s, the number of teachers has only increased by 12.75 percent. Not to mention that the new budget plan runs the risk of losing teachers because of the salary differential between Montgomery County and other counties is decreasing while the cost of living in Montgomery County is much higher than that of most counties.

With an already dwindling budget, a focus on MCPS positions instead of teachers does nothing to ensure the academic success of the affected students. Instead of spending precious dollars on non-classroom positions, more money must be allocated to support teachers and student materials.

CHS and other Montgomery County schools did not attain Blue Ribbon statuses or academic renown because their students are geniuses. They did so because their schools have had well planned budgets that support the academic needs of their students. Without an improved budget plan students will suffer academically. Although no one wants to admit it, money really does make the world go round. The Board of Education can either accept that fact and create an adequate budget or lower the expectations for their students.