2014-2015 Budget Planning

2014 - 2015 Budget Planning

This page will provide updates throughout the budget planning process.

Updated on May 22, 2014

14-15 Operating Budget Approved

On May 20, the School Board adopted a final 14-15 Operating Budget.

Final Approved Budget Expenditure Summary

Updated on April 17, 2014

School Board Approves Budget For Public Hearing

 On April 15, the School Board approved a budget for the purpose of a public hearing to be held on April 29, 2014.

That budget and the associated list of proposed budget reductions can be found online.

The list of proposed cuts is outlined below. The line numbers reference the Superintendent’s List of Suggested Budget Reductions from April 15.

The Superintendent made a presentation to the School Board explaining her recommendation. This presentation can be viewed on the meeting video at time stamp 1:57:37.

Description of Suggested Budget Reductions:

Line 2: Restructure the GED program involves streamlining our GED program and offering more online GED preparatory coursework. (Savings = $30,000)

Line 3:  The field trip budget is designed to supplement funding, not to be the only source of funds for field trips. Last year over $250,000 was spent on field trips.  The money came from the school board allocation, but also from PTA/PTO organizations, fund raising, school activity funds and parental contributions. Removing a small portion of the school board field trip allocation will have minimal impact on the  educational program. (Savings = $32,116)              

Line 4: Restructuring the summer school offerings will include offering more online summer courses and other efficiencies. (Savings = $32,116)

Line 5:  Public input favored additional reductions to the supply budget. After review, it was determined that the current budgets could tolerate this reduction without sacrificing educational quality. (Savings = $336,141)

Line 6: The initial budget included adding four slots for the Governor’s School summer program. This line eliminates that proposal. (Savings = $7,434)

Line 7: The initial budget included the purchase of online student enrollment software. This line eliminates that proposal. (Savings = $75,620)

Line 8: The initial budget included funds to expand the College Application Week program. This line eliminates that proposal. (Savings = $50,000)

Line 9:  The initial budget included funds for math instructional enhancements, such as software, workbooks, graphic calculators and other materials. Some of these materials may be able to be purchased with textbook funds and others will have to be delayed.  (Savings = $88,955)

Line 10:  The initial budget included funds to purchase software for a website content management system. This line eliminates that proposal. (Savings = $30,935)

Line 12:  The change to the health insurance plan would offer an HMO plan to employees as fully paid for a single subscriber. The employee would have the option to upgrade to the PPO plan. (Savings = $439,698)

Line 13: This line reflects the savings that would be generated if five employees took advantage of the division’s early retirement incentive program. (Savings = $74,000)

Line 14:  The initial budget included $2.3 million for salary enhancements. After the salary study, it was determined that a salary adjustment would cost $2.1 million. Teachers will move one step and receive a makeup step for 2015. All other employees will move two years within the salary schedule for their employee group. Employees at the top of their scale will receive a 1.75% increase. (Savings = $232,000)

Line 15:  Originally we projected a 10% increase in the cost of our health insurance plan. Due to the success of the competitive RFP process and staff negotiations, that increase has gone down to 2.9%, providing additional funds for the budget. (Savings = $883,000)

Line 16:  Electing a lower rate for VRS nonprofessional employee group for this biennium has no negative consequence for the employee.  VRS actuarial tables indicate that the rates for this group are expected to decline over the next 5 years.  This is a low risk opportunity to reduce expenditures. (Savings = $83,304)

Line 17:  MCPS supports maintaining a desirable staffing ratio at every grade level. Despite the economic demands of the last 5 years, class size has been increased on average by 1 student. No staff member will lose their job about of this reduction. The changes will be accomplished through a combination of change in class size, realignment of programs, and reduction in programs and course offerings - particularly those with 10 or less students enrolled. All impacted employees will be placed in other positions within the district.  (Savings = $701,800)

Lines 18, 19 and 20:  These reductions occur at the level of central office services.  The recommendation includes the reduction of the newest position in HR (approved in  December), the addition of the ITRT position in technology (approved in the February 2014 preliminary budget) and the reduction in the length of the contract year for 3 central office positions – change 1 position from 12 to 10 months and 2 positions from 12 to 11 months.  (Savings = $132,984)

Line 22:  Academic and Athletic stipends support student engagement in opportunities outside the traditional curriculum.  MCPS budgets over $565,000 to support these opportunities for students and additional services at our schools.  This is a reasonable reduction that can be made without significant impact to opportunities for students or overall school operations.  (Savings = $56,566)

Line 23:  The title of the budget line is deceptive because it is not just conference travel.  It includes a significant amount of essential travel, such as all the itinerant travel for employees who have duties at multiple sites in conjunction with their jobs (itinerants, teachers, psychologist and others).  Efforts will continue to maximize the efficiency of all travel.  (Savings = $26,763)

Line 24:  Through use of the lower wing of OCMS, Rivendell, Phoenix and Independence Secondary Programs can be centralized, have access to more appropriate space and provide a corresponding savings of $4,700.  These programs were relocated to Wilson House and rental property when BMS was relocated to OCMS.  Although the long term plan for the OCMS building is involved in future discussions about the facility needs for the Christiansburg strand it can also offer improved facilities for these 3 programs and results in cost savings for the short term. (Savings = $4,700)

Line 25: Savings on Professional Services is a new reduction recommendation with associated savings of $54,824.  This area includes items such as printing and binding, legal services, audit fees, advertising, and consultants. (Savings = $54,824)

Line 27: The initial budget included funds for building repair and roof maintenance. This line eliminates that proposal. (Savings = $250,000)

Line 28: The initial budget included the purchase of online student enrollment software. This line eliminates that proposal. (Savings = $150,000)

Line 29: The initial budget included the purchase of online student enrollment software. This line eliminates that proposal. (Savings = $175,000)

* All savings numbers are compared to the original proposed budget approved on February 4, 2014

Updated on April 3, 2014

School Board Begins Discussions on Budget Cuts

The Superintendent's List of Suggested Budget Reductions were presented to the School Board on March 13. The School Board discussed these reductions at the March 13, March 18 and April 1 meetings. During these discussions, a number of questions were proposed about the list of suggested reductions. A summary of these questions and the responses are provided below to provide additional information as the School Board continues to determine how to cut $3.9 million from the budget.

General Budget Questions:

1.      What are the new spending requirements for 2014-2015?

New spending requirements include $1.7 million in unfunded state mandates. The state required increase for the Virginia Retirement System will cost over $1 million and we have to allocate additional funds for required increases in state group health insurance, disability coverage and life insurance.

2.      What is the cost to educate a student in Montgomery County?

The total cost per student is $9,564.30. 

3.      Do we receive any sales tax revenue?

We have budgeted $10,215,457 in fiscal year 2014-2015 for state sales tax revenue.  This is an increase of $528,305 from the fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.  This information can be found in the attached budget book on page 17.

 4.      What federal funding does MCPS receive?

The following chart shows the breakdown of budgeted federal revenue.                         

FY 2012-13
FY 2013-14
FY 2014-15
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Title Funds:
Title I Part A Basic Program
Title II A Improving Teacher Quality
Title VI Part B Special Education
Section 619 Sp Ed Preschool
Subtotal NCLB
Basic Adult Education
Federal Land Use
Vocational Education

5.      How full are our schools?

The chart below provides the capacity and utilization for select schools in Montgomery County.

 Enrollment 2/28/2014
 % Utilization
 *includes PK

Are there cost savings to be realized by moving some students from Falling Branch Elementary to remove the trailers from the site? This may also alleviate some safety concerns with the mobile units.

Removing all of the mobile units at Falling Branch would save a total of $9,600 per year. However, the additional transportation involved in moving 200 students is anticipated to offset these savings. There is not capacity at another nearby elementary school to accommodate the 200 students. However, EMES could hold 125 additional students.

What money would be saved by consolidating schools, specifically Harding Avenue Elementary and Shawsville Middle?

The closure of Harding Avenue Elementary would result in reduction of a principal, administrative assistant, aide, custodian, guidance counselor, librarian, and nurse.  Enrollment at Price’s Fork would increase to the level that requires us to add an assistant principal and part-time guidance counselor.  Total projected staff savings would be $311,770. Transportation cost would increase by $24,200; and we would incur a loss of state technology funds of $26,000.  The utility savings at HAE are estimated at $43,319, bringing the total estimated savings to $304,889.

The closure of Shawsville Middle School with sixth grade attending EMES and 7th and 8th at EMHS would result in reduction of a principal, two administrative assistants, custodian, guidance counselor, librarian, and nurse.  Projected staff savings would be $430,073.

Transportation cost would increase by $24,350 due to the need for an additional route; and we would incur a loss of state technology funds of $26,000.  The potential net savings would be approximately $379,723. The utility savings for SMS are estimated at $88,270, bringing the total estimated savings for closing SMS with the EMES/EMHS relocation option to $467,993

The closure of Shawsville Middle School with all students attending EMHS would result in the same projected savings, but an additional bus route would not be needed.  The potential net savings would be approximately $404,073. The utility savings for SMS are estimated at $88,270, bringing the total estimated savings for closing SMS to $467,993 or $492,343 depending on the relocation option selected. 

*Assumes all personnel are placed through attrition.

What would happen to employees displaced at a closing school?

If schools were closed due to consolidation a Reduction in Force would have to be followed according to Policy 5-3.7.  We hope these positions would be absorbed through attrition. If not, we would follow the division’s RIF policies.

 9.      What are the cost savings that can be realized with shared services with Montgomery County?

Our conversations with the County about shared services are ongoing. We have looked at consolidating vehicle maintenance, grounds keeping, financial services and health insurance. The RFP window for the school/county health insurance merger just closed and the submissions are being evaluated. We are unifying our accounting software with the County to create efficiencies in how information is transferred, saving staff time. Neither organization has a vehicle maintenance facility large enough to accommodate both fleets resulting in the need to purchase space before the departments could consolidate. Consolidating grounds keeping services would not have resulted in any savings .

Security investment - how much have we spent on security enhancement at the various schools and how were funded? What schools are left?

The security enhancements have been done both by technology and facilities.

We received a $60,000 grant from the state for security enhancements with a local match requirement of 25%.  We received $388,000 in one-time funds from the County.  The cost to date is: Facilities - $60,246: and Technology - $275,793. Total cost to date is $336,039. Outside door handles still need to be replaced at AHS and BHS. Technology still has the following schools: 

Phase I - Electronic Entry - BMS and Kipps Elementary.

Phase II - Card Access - Only schools that have this system are CES, CHS, FBE, HAE, and CPS.

Are there plans to fund the items mentioned in the CardnoTec maintenance report?

Many of the items identified in the Cardno Tec Maintenance Report are addressed as part of the Capital Maintenance Project list. The Cardno Tech report recommended a line item expenditure averaging $2 million per year through 2017.


What is an FTE? What is PTR? And, how many FTEs does one PTR equate to?

FTE stands for Full Time Equivalent.  When planning budgets, we use this acronym to symbolize how many staff positions would have to be cut based on the average teacher salary.  When finalized, the numbers may be different - some staff members may make more than the average amount and some may make less.  However, using FTE allows us to estimate how many positions we would lose.

MCPS uses the average teacher salary including benefits to set an FTE value.  It is $63,800 for the 2014-2015 school year.

The Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) is the average number of students per teacher throughout the County. Increasing the PTR by one student per class will reduce 22 positions throughout the division.

A one student increase in PTR is slated to save $1.4 million. Would the reduction of 22 positions occur through attrition?

The superintendent has stated her expectation that any staff reductions would happen through attrition.

How would an increase in the PTR impact school programs?

Increasing the Pupil Teacher Ratio by one student will reduce 22 positions throughout the division. Because we receive federal money for small class sizes in grades K-3, it is not financially prudent to increase class sizes in these grades. Thus, the increase in PTR at the elementary level would occur in grades 4 and 5, and would possible include programs such as gifted, music, arts, and physical education.

Due to the staffing reductions at the middle school level in the 2013-2014 budget from the change in the middle school scheduling model, most class size increases would affect high schools. Principals will provide input to the administration to develop a more specific overview of particular class sizes and programs to be impacted.  At the high school level, the PTR change would impact all areas of instruction. This would include larger class sizes, CTE, Fine Arts, and specialty academic programs, especially those with low enrollment. While our goal would be to reduce these positions through attrition, there are very specific endorsements for many of the programs described above which would limit our flexibility in reassigning teachers.

 15.  Is data available for the PTR at each school?

This information is available online at http://goo.gl/7wkxuE.

 16.  One method of reducing athletic supplements would be to only pay the designated head coach for JV and varsity sports. What would this cost savings be?

The savings would be $89,717 to pay only the head coach in each VHSL activity.

17.  What are math enhancements and why are they a necessary purchase?

Math enhancements are the materials used with our math curriculum. Enhancements include Math 180, Reflex Math, computer-based algebra interventions and graphing calculators. We can take a portion of this money and fund it from the textbook budget, but in light of our current struggles in math testing it is important that these items be fully funded.

18.  What are math coaches and why are they needed?

Instructional coaching reflects the growing consensus of what constitutes high quality professional development.  It is job embedded, addressing issues teachers face daily in their classrooms.  It is ongoing, not a one shot workshop and is aligned to state standards, curriculum and assessment.  The overall purpose of coaching is twofold to result in improved instructional practice and improved student learning.  Ultimately coaching is a method to create systemic change. 

19.  Payroll personnel – we have five. Is this comparable to other divisions?

In 2007, the efficiency study of MCPS by MGT of America found that the Human Resources department was in alignment with other Virginia school divisions of similar size.




 Montgomery County  School Division



 Augusta County Public  Schools



 Fauquier County Public  Schools



 Frederick County Public  Schools



 Rockingham County  Public Schools



 York County School  Division




MGT of America recognized the importance of the how the department was managed and commended it for “adding staff to the HR department to allow for cross-training and backup systems of support.”

The latest addition to the department was approved by the School Board in December 2013 to help with the additional work created by the latest VRS unfunded mandates.

Employee Benefits

20.  Is there a way to maintain the current benefit for employees and provide a salary increase in the current budget?

To retain current benefits (no PPO upgrade cost to employees) and provide the salary enhancements to employee, $2.8 million would need to be cut from other portions of the budget. The administration would need guidance from the Board in order to make suggestions for other cuts.

21.  How would the health insurance change affect the benefits offered to employees (savings of $439,698)?

Employees would receive the HMO plan at no charge, as they do now. They would need to pay to upgrade their health insurance to the PPO plan. The PPO upgrade would cost the employee $506.99 annually, or $42.25 per month. The HMO/PPO comparison can be found online at http://goo.gl/YDPM6i.

 22.  How would the proposed compensation increase be distributed to employees?

We are completing our work with EverGreen Solutions LLC on the Salary Schedule Study.  This will be completed by April 1, 2014 and presented to the Board at the April 15, 2014 Board meeting.

 23.  The superintendent recommends reducing athletic and academic stipends by 20% for a cost savings of $134,132.  How would these reductions occur? Principals will provide input to the administration to develop a more specific overview of particular stipends to be impacted.  At most schools this will result in approximately 2-3 academic and 2-3 athletic stipends being eliminated.

Other Proposed Budget Cuts:

24.  Is it possible to save money by reducing long distance travel for athletic functions?

The potential savings would be $7,162 to eliminate scrimmages for sports teams that traveled a distance of 50 miles or more.

25.  When Pay for Play was proposed in 2012, how much revenue would have been generated?

Pay to Play for VHS athletics and activities at $100 per sport/activity with a cap of $300 per family would save the division approximately $70,000. ($72,100 was the figure quoted for 12-13)

26.  The proposed budget includes restoring funds for In-School Suspension programs. How important is this program to schools?

The In-School Suspension program is important for maintaining discipline options for principals. It is an alternative to out of school suspension and expulsion. The In-School Suspension Assistants at Shawsville and Auburn Middle Schools were restored through carryover funds for the current school year so that there would be equity between all of the middle schools. 

27.  The proposed budget includes funds for a content manager. Does the county have such a program and could we piggyback on their program?

The County does have a content manager, as a contract service, for their website. We cannot piggyback on their contract because we are considered a separate entity. The County is in the process of hiring someone who will build a new website for them from the ground up.  Initial conversations indicate that it will be several years before we would be able to utilize the structure that they are creating.  Even then, it would take additional time to build our construct - an umbrella site that encompasses 20 individual sites.

 28.  How does the current travel budget compare to previous cuts?

The proposed reduction to travel is 10% or $10,705.  Previous cuts to the travel budget include a 5% cut in FY 2009-10, a 15% cut in FY 2010-11, and a 5% cut in FY 2012-13.

 29.  How much has been cut from field trips already?

The field trip budget for fiscal year 2007-08 was $121,673. The net amount that has been cut from the field trip budget from FY 2007-08 to FY 2013-14 is $4,034 or 2.3%. In fiscal years 2008-09 and 2013-2014 additional funds were added to the field trip lines.

30.  What is the total percentage of overall supplies proposed as a budgetary cut?

$97,774 is approximately 3.7% of the total supplies budget.

Updated on March 11, 2014

Budget Shortfall Estimated at $3.9 million

 Initial figures for next year’s operating budget for Montgomery County Public Schools has the school division operating at a 2008-09 funding level, with 2014 expenses. The County Administrator’s proposed budget is $3.9 million less than what the school system needs to operate.

 Due to reductions in funding since 2010, the following cuts have occurred to the MCPS budget:

  • More than 60 positions cut from the budget (class size up from 20 to 22)
  • Reduction of 50% of the textbook budget (textbooks are worn, but cannot be replaced)
  • Half of the funds for supplies and equipment – maintenance and instructional supplies. This includes basic necessities to operate a school such as toilet paper, toner cartridges, paper towels, paper, projector bulbs, etc.
  • Elimination of programs such as the summer Governor’s Summer School program, Adult Education, and elementary summer school
  • Reduction of programs such as secondary summer school and gifted testing
  • Increased walking distance to bus stops and revised bus routes

 All schools were accredited in 2010. Now three schools are accredited with warning. Addressing the needs of these schools requires additional resources.

 Why $3.9 Million?

Unfunded mandates and an increase in costs have created the gap in the budget. The state required increase for the Virginia Retirement System and the estimated increase in health insurance costs will each cost over $1 million. Utility costs have gone up and the new schools have more square footage to heat and cool. Employee compensation has seen little improvement over the last five years.

Why Isn’t There Enough Money?

The state continues to fail in its duty to fund public education.  The level of state money projected for next year is $7 million less than what we received in 08-09. Everything costs more now. As an example, a gallon of gas was $3.05 in 2008 but is now $3.32.  The County has tried to alleviate some of this burden, but simply cannot keep up with rising costs and the failure of the state to restore the drastic cuts to education that it implemented beginning in 2010. (Statistics from Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The school system says there is less money, the state says there is more money and the County says the money is the same as last year. What does all of this mean?

It looks like the state will provide the school system with more money, but this money barely covers the cost of unfunded mandates that the state passed down to the local level, leave the school system with little additional money to spend on the needs of the division or to even address rising costs.

The County's level funding for 2015 does not include the additional $575,000 provided to the school system last year to help with capital needs, roof repairs, classroom technology and buses. Without that increase again, the school division will have to absorb those costs.  Why?  Because our capital maintenance needs are recurring – HVAC units break, roofs must be fixed and walls need to be painted. Our bus replacement cycle allows us to phase out aging buses before they break down on the side of the road. Classroom technology keeps our children engaged and helps students prepare for today's work place environment.

The school budget asks for $101 million, but the County Administrator’s budget says the schools will receive $121 million. Why do the schools need more money?

The $121 million figure used in the County Administrator’s budget includes several items:

  • $97 million for the school operating budget (day-to-day expenses and federal funds that are restricted to use in specific programs)
  • $4.3 million for the school nutrition program (a program that funds itself and requires no funding from the County)
  • $1.4 million for the capital reserve (the building of a capital reserve to fund building and other capital projects)
  • $18.3 million in debt service for new school buildings (EMES, PFES, BHS, AHS, AMS)

$97 million is what the schools would receive for operating costs under the current funding formula established by the state and the county.  This is $3.9 million less than what is needed to continue the level of educational quality that currently exists in MCPS.

What types of things would MCPS have to cut?

The options for things to cut becomes smaller and smaller as the school system continues to cut more from its budget each year. Previously, the division discussed consolidating and rezoning schools, reducing employee benefits such as health insurance, increasing class size, reducing support services, and eliminating or restructuring programs such as Governor’s School and athletics.

What would make a difference?

Simply, the school division needs more funding.  Funding for schools comes from the state or from the County.

What can you do?

  • Contact your Virginia legislators and ask them to make funding for education a priority for the Commonwealth.
  • Contact your representative on the Board of Supervisors and ask him or her to keep education as a priority in Montgomery County.

Updated on February 5, 2014

The Montgomery County School Board approved a 2014-2015 Preliminary Budget for submission to the Board of Supervisors.

The School Board approved budget includes increases in funding for unfunded state mandates, mandatory utility rate increases and increase in health insurance costs. The budget, as approved by the School Board, maintains the current level of employee benefits. It also includes funds to begin to correct the frozen salary scale.

The Board of Supervisors will discuss the budget again at the meetings listed below. It is important for the Supervisors to continue to hear the importance of education funding in Montgomery County. Please consider attending these meetings and sharing your support for Montgomery County Public Schools.

March 3 – 6 p.m. – Presentation of Proposed Budget
March 17 – 6 p.m. – Establish advertised tax rate
April 3 – 6 p.m. – Public Hearing on Proposed Budget
April 14 – 7:30 p.m. – Adopt Budget

2014-2015 Approved Preliminary Budget (broken down into categorical expenditures)

Updated on January 24, 2014

The Montgomery County School Board approved a preliminary budget for the purpose of a public hearing to be held on January 28, 2014, at 7 p.m.

The proposed budget includes $8 million in new expenditures, some of which are created by unfunded state mandates. Others are mandatory increases such as utility costs and an increase in health insurance costs. As shown in the proposed budget, a slight increase in state revenue is expected, but many of those funds will be spent on new unfunded mandates, such as $1.4 million for a mandatory VRS increase. 

The School Board also approve a preliminary School Nutrition Program budget for the public hearing. 

Updated on January 16, 2014

The Montgomery County School Board received a draft version of the 2014-2015 Superintendent's Proposed Budget for discussion and review. The proposed budget includes $8 million in new expenditures, some of which are created by unfunded state mandates. Others are mandatory increases such as utility costs and an increase in health insurance costs. As shown in the proposed budget, a slight increase in state revenue is expected, but many of those funds will be spent on new unfunded mandates, such as $1.4 million for a mandatory VRS increase. 

The School Board will be asked to approve an initial budget request on January 21 for the purpose of a public hearing scheduled for January 28, 2014, at 7 p.m. 

Updated on January 8, 2014

The Montgomery County School Board heard preliminary information about the 2014-2015 operating budget at their meeting on January 7, 2014. The Governor's current proposed budget does not restore the more than $9.6 million of lost state revenue over the past five years. There is a slight increase in state revenue, but many of those funds will be spent on new unfunded mandates, such as $1.4 million for a mandatory VRS increase. 

Updated on December 18, 2013

Governor McDonnell released his proposed budget on Monday, December 16. Regional Public Hearings for the Governor's Proposed 2014-2016 Biennial Budget will be on Friday, January 3, 2014 at noon in the Virginia Tech Graduate Life Center. The proposed budget recommends $582.6 million for K-12 and pre-K education.

MCPS expects to receive 2.8 million dollars in additional state revenue. Although this sounds good on the surface, peeling away the onion gives it a completely different look. The following facts are important to consider:

  • MCPS expects to pay 2.8% more for VRS at a cost to the division of $1.4 million.
  • The compensation supplement (represented the 2% raise for SOQ positions last year) was not continued. Therefore MCPS must cover that cost $560,000 from the new state money.
  • Expenditures, including some personnel such as additional math coaches that are critical, were funded from one time money either need to be refunded from this new money or cut. The cost is $226,000.
  • The Board of Supervisors allocated one time money for roofs, technology and 2 buses; to refund these items cost $575,000.
  • Anticipate a 10% increase in health insurance costs and need to reserve $1.1 million to fund the plan. 

Updated on October 30, 2013

On October 15, 2013, the School Board adopted a budget planning calendar outlining important dates in the budget planning process. The calendar can be found online in BoardDocs.

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