Montgomery College Trustees Adopt FY15 Operating Budget Budget of $244.4 Million to Bolster College Access, Excellence, and Success
The Montgomery College Board of Trustees adopted a fiscal year 2015 operating budget of $244.4 million on Monday, December 16, at its monthly meeting, that will bolster commitment to a strong local higher education option for all county residents—one that emphasizes access, affordability, excellence, and success. The budget, which will be presented to the Montgomery County Executive and Montgomery County Council in January, amounts to a 7.3 percent increase over last year’s FY14 operating budget.
The operating budget is consistent with the College’s strategic plan, Montgomery College 2020, and calls for an investment in a strong K–20 education system in Montgomery County. A majority of the total increased funding request—$14.5 million—would go toward employee compensation and benefits, and the long-planned Bioscience Education Center at the Germantown Campus.
“As the county emerges from this economic recession, Montgomery College must seek new resources to catch up, and make strategic investments that will enable the College to better meet our students’ needs both today and tomorrow,” says Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College. “By 2018, two-thirds of all jobs in the state will require education after high school, and a college-educated workforce contributes to a robust economy and vibrant, engaged communities. To move Montgomery County forward, a strong school system that is tightly coupled with strong, locally provided post-secondary education is essential to ensuring more and more residents can obtain a good-paying job and a place in the middle class.”
During the recession, the College’s operating budget saw significant declines in funding, and employees and students made significant sacrifices to support the institution. Faculty and staff experienced furloughs, and positions had to be reallocated in an effort to meet record enrollment demand without the corresponding increase in resources.
Students also felt the cost of the recession. Over the past five years, the number of MC students applying for financial aid grew by 60 percent, and students have had to shoulder a greater amount of the institutional operating costs as public funding declined. Per legislative intent, community college students should cover 33 percent of the operating budget costs, but tuition and fee revenue now account for 38.3 percent of the College’s most recent budget.
Maintaining Excellence As a community college, Montgomery College is dependent on its faculty and staff to deliver excellent higher education and to provide support to assist students in achieving success. The FY15 operating budget accounts for compensation—a continuation of agreements negotiated last year and increased benefit costs for employees. Providing Access to Post-Secondary Education
Montgomery College continues to have the largest space deficit of any community college in the state of Maryland. The opening of the new Bioscience Education Center on the Germantown Campus in the fall of 2014 will add much-needed, state-of-the-art science education facilities for students. This operating budget includes 38 positions to operate the new building. Among the positions are biology, chemistry, and biotechnology lab coordinators; instructional associates for the new science learning center, which offers tutoring assistance to students; custodial staff; and security officers. The Bioscience Education Center is crucial to the county’s effort to attract and retain well-paying jobs.
A request for 13 new full-time faculty members across the three campuses would allow the College to serve greater numbers of students in high-demand disciplines—such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—which are key disciplines in providing the middle- and high-skilled workforce necessary for a thriving local economy.
The operating budget features funding to support translation services for the College website, which often serves as the first point of information about the College. Translating the website into five commonly used languages will make the website responsive to the changing demographics within Montgomery County, engage families and students, and broaden access to post-secondary education. This effort will complement the College’s plan for community engagement centers, which would offer Montgomery College services in areas currently underserved by the College. Ensuring Success and Completion
In addition, the budget calls for an increase in staffing to support the College’s new Welcome Centers, which serve as a first-stop for anyone new to the College and a one-stop for prospective students who need assistance with the application and enrollment process, and the new Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program. Requests for a financial aid staff position and increased funding for institutional scholarship opportunities round out the College’s budget request.
Urgent Need for Affordable, Local Higher Education
The Montgomery College vision is to act with a sense of urgency to meet the dynamic challenges facing our students and community. Approximately 60 percent of Montgomery County Public Schools graduates who stay in Maryland for college choose to attend Montgomery College, and the number of students who will need that affordable, local option is growing. Recent figures demonstrate that an affordable, local option for higher education is needed now more than ever before. The number of residents who live below the federal poverty line has increased; there are as many students on FARMS in the local school system as there are students in the Washington DC public schools. Here is the challenge: national research shows that only 7.3 percent of students in the bottom quartile of family income earn a bachelor’s degree within six years after high school.
But Montgomery College is ready to help move Montgomery County forward, to ensure that, no matter the personal circumstances, any resident can obtain a postsecondary education in this community’s college. Montgomery College is crucial to state and county efforts to increase college completion, to expand access to the middle class, and to keep our economy strong. This budget enables the College to catch up, reinvest, and most importantly, build for the future—the future of our students and community.
The FY15 operating budget seeks additional public support totaling $21 million, in comparison to last year. At this point, state and county aid are not yet known. The budget also assumes a modest tuition adjustment of $3 per credit hour for local residents, $6 per credit hour for state residents, and $9 per credit hour for out-of-state residents.