The Montgomery County Board of Education on Tuesday gave its final approval to the school district’s nearly $3 billion budget for the next fiscal year, which also finalizes a roughly 6% annual salary increase for employees.

The $2.9 billion budget is about $138 million (5%) more than the current year’s spending plan, though it falls $47 million short of the school board’s request of $2.96 billion.

Regardless, Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight said the district is “grateful” for the county’s investment in Montgomery County Public Schools.

The budget, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, allows MCPS to follow through on an initiative the school board approved in May to “set employees up for success” by compensating them better after a stressful two years of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, McKnight said.

“For that, we’re excited,” she said, adding that it is “an extraordinary budget for extraordinary times.”

The salary increases take effect July 1, according to a message McKnight sent to employees in May. The budget includes a 3.35% cost of living increase for all employees, as well as a salary step increase.

In other spending, the budget includes six additional social worker positions, and changes the classification of 30 psychologists positions from 10-month assignments to 12-month assignments, making them “more competitive” in the job market, MCPS staff members said.

Other focus areas of the budget include ensuring every school has a full-time staff development teacher and every elementary school has a full-time reading specialist. The budget also allocates funding to establish a “welcome center” for families new to the school district, and for expenses related to opening a new elementary school in Gaithersburg in the fall. The budget also provides funding for several measure related to school safety, like security cameras and security staff members, and additional training.

Caitlynn Peetz

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com