Statement by Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President of Montgomery College, on FY16 Operating and Capital Budget Decisions by the County Council
I want to thank the Montgomery County Council for the operating budget and capital budget decisions made today. We are extremely grateful to the county council for its support and belief in the College, our mission, and our role in the community as a linchpin in the continued economic progress of our community.
I am especially pleased that the council voted to support an additional $7.9 million in new county resources to help fund our operating budget for a total increase in county funds of $10.9 million for fiscal year 2016.
Whether our high school graduates or adult learners want to be engineers or mechanics, nurses or lab technicians, teachers or cybersecurity analysts, they must have a postsecondary education. According to the National Science Foundation, half of America’s scientists and engineers started at a community college. Moreover, the county’s economic future requires strong investments in a ‘Kindergarten to Job’ education system with Montgomery College at the core.
The majority of the new county funds will cover changes in employee compensation and benefits costs. The council and the county executive clearly recognized our faculty and staff’s deep commitment to our students to help them succeed and thereby fuel our local economy with ready workers. No matter the challenge, they always put our students first and stay focused on what matters most—empowering our students to change their lives.
The council made protecting affordability a priority. While Montgomery College is the most affordable higher education option for county residents, more and more of our students find it difficult to afford MC on their own. Financial aid applications have grown by 70 percent since 2009. Nearly 30 percent of our students receive federal Pell grants, up from 25 percent in just 2012. As a result, the Board of Trustees stood by its commitment to affordability and adopted only a modest tuition increase of $3 per credit hour for local residents (2.6 percent), $6 per credit hour for state residents, and $9 per credit hour for out-of-state residents just last month. Clearly, councilmembers heard our concerns and share our collective commitment to an affordable, high-quality, locally provided postsecondary education.
The council also provided funds to help advance strategic efforts to close the achievement gap (Achieving the Promise), permanently staff the community engagement centers, and provide for a modest expansion of the ACES program.
Furthermore, the council made decisions about the College’s capital budget, the budget that funds the construction costs for new buildings, renovations, and other related infrastructure investments. In total, for FY16, the council voted to provide $54 million to support our capital budget, which includes $12.6 million for information technology support. Specifically, construction funds were provided to renovate and expand the Germantown Science and Applied Studies Building.