Welcome to the County Council

Montgomery County Council Committees to Meet with School Officials to Discuss Fiscal Planning, Funding for Public Schools

OLO Report Examines Potential Impact of New Rigid Maintenance of Effort Law and Board of Education Decisions on Employee Compensation

ROCKVILLE, Md., October 19, 2012—The Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee and its Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee will meet jointly with members of the County Board of Education and School Superintendent Joshua Starr at 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22. The worksession will focus on the findings of the Office of Legislative Oversight’s (OLO) report analyzing the impact on the County of the changes made by the Maryland General Assembly to the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) law for public school systems and Board of Education compensation decisions that will significantly impact County budgets in upcoming years.

The meeting of the Education Committee, which is chaired by Valerie Ervin and includes Councilmembers Phil Andrews and Craig Rice, and the GO Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Navarro and includes Councilmembers Ervin and Hans Riemer, will take place in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov.

Current County projections for Fiscal Year 2014 anticipate a 5.2 percent reduction in resources available to non-education functions such as public safety, transportation, health and human services, libraries and recreation. The new MOE law puts the County in a precarious budget situation. Absent increased revenue, raising the local contribution to MCPS above the MOE requirement would necessitate even deeper offsetting reductions in other agency budgets in FY14 and potentially in FY15 and beyond. The OLO report identifies a range of choices that were available to the Board of Education as it built its FY13 Operating Budget.

“There is a misconception that the Council has authority to decide things like class size, retaining ESOL teachers, paraeducators, instrumental music teachers and maintaining certain educational programs,” said Councilmember Ervin. “The Board of Education makes these choices and decides what the priorities will be for the budget year. The purpose of this discussion is to review the choices that were made and to discuss how the Board of Education plans to fit its priorities under the budget constraints imposed by the new Maintenance of Effort Law.”

Council Vice President Navarro said: “As a former Board of Education member, I understand the difficult choices the School Board confronts every day. This joint committee session seeks to examine how these choices impact the overall fiscal condition of our county. Without the leadership of this County Council, we would not have been able to maintain our Triple-A bond rating during these uncertain economic times.”

The OLO report continues the Council’s ongoing work to preserve fiscal stability for the County over the long-term. In 2010, Vice President Navarro, whose Government Operations Committee oversees County fiscal policy, fiercely advocated for the Council’s approval of a six-year fiscal plan for the first time, as proposed by former Council President Nancy Floreen. The same year, OLO released a report titled “Achieving a Structurally Balanced Budget in Montgomery County.”

In 2011, Councilmember Ervin, who was then serving as Council President, spearheaded efforts to contain costs, and the Council unanimously voted to hit the reset button on school spending.

In spring 2012, the Board of Education elected to allocate available resources to award two pay increases in FY13. Similarly, the Board did not revisit its FY11 decision to increase class size by one student. As the OLO report states: “The Board’s decision to increase salaries raised base costs, thereby creating a recurring obligation in FY14 and beyond.”

For the full version of the report, follow the links below to:

Powerpoint presentation to the Council
Companion document to the presentation
Video of October 16 Council briefing (click on Agenda Item 4)

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The Displaced Worker Protection Act

Today, the Council passed the Displaced Worker Protection Act, a bill to help the most vulnerable members of our workforce. I was proud to co-sponsor and vote for this legislation because it provides a modest level of stability for those who need it most, without imposing too heavy a burden on their employers. I want to thank Councilmember Valerie Ervin for her leadership on this issue.

The bill provides that low-wage building service workers — the employees that clean our bathrooms, shovel our sidewalks, and keep our offices secure — cannot be fired without cause for 90 days when a building changes contractors. These are people who go to work every day; many work more than one job just to make ends meet. Low wages and limited benefits mean that these employees don’t have savings to draw on in an emergency, and sudden termination can leave them and their families without any way to support themselves.

President Obama issued an Executive Order applying this protection to employees of federal contractors less than two weeks after he took office in 2009. Similar legislation has already been successful in:

  • Washington DC
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • Providence

In each case, the evidence shows that these provisions help low wage employees without stunting local economies or pushing businesses into other jurisdictions.

I understand and respect those who believe this measure is too intrusive or that it might damage our economy. I’ve received a lot of correspondence about this bill — both for and against. I’m grateful for the input of both sides.

But I have also received correspondence on this bill that relied on incendiary language and vague accusations to demonize low wage workers in our community, rather than constructive arguments. For example, one email I received urged me to vote “Hell No” on this bill because, it claimed, most low wage workers are “illegal aliens.” The emailed continued:

Workers are sometimes fired within hours after a new contractor comes in, creating instability and hardship for their children and families. I have no problem with this.

Clearly, this is the sentiment of one individual, and most of this bill’s opponents oppose it for entirely legitimate reasons. And I have seen day after day serving on this Council that every one of my fellow Councilmembers are here with the best intentions to fight against “creating instability and hardship for … children and families.” But this kind of rhetoric pops up every time we consider greater protections for those who are the most vulnerable in our society, and I believe it is important to highlight and refute it.

When I ran for this office, I promised to stand up for all of my constituents — rich and poor; black, white and brown; gay and straight; east-county, mid-county, and up-county. I believe that if you work hard and play by the rules, the government should play a role to make sure you have the opportunity to make a better life for yourself and your family. All too often, people look at service employees as disposable — that we can replace one worker with another and no one would notice. But I notice. The people protected by this bill are mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, people who work the graveyard shift cleaning toilets, then take 3 buses to a second job so they can put food on the table and send their kids to college. And I am proud that, with the passage of this bill, when service workers are summarily terminated without some modicum of notice or cause, Montgomery County’s government will notice too.

Nancy in the News

Montgomery County Council honors Berman Academy/Harmony Hills ES peer mentoring partnership

For Immediate Release

Montgomery County Council to honor Berman Hebrew Academy’s “Chesed Ambassadors” partnership with Harmony Hills Elementary School

Councilmember Nancy Navarro praises peer mentoring program

ROCKVILLE, Md., September 11, 2012 — Montgomery County Council Vice President Nancy Navarro (D-District 4) on Tuesday, September 11, presented a proclamation on behalf of the Montgomery County Council to students and administrators from the Berman Hebrew Academy and Harmony Hills Elementary School to honor the “Chesed Ambassadors” program — a partnership between the two schools.

The ceremonies will take place at approximately 9:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the County Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville.

Although the schools are less than two miles apart in Aspen Hill, the two communities often do not have opportunities to interact. The “Chesed Ambassadors” program was born in a meeting between Councilmember Navarro and Berman Academy’s Headmaster Dr. Joshua Levinsohn to help bring these communities together. The program has been successful in providing a cultural exchange that strengthens the entire Aspen Hill community.

In January, Berman Academy selected 8 eighth graders to be “Chesed Ambassadors” and visit with kindergarten classes at Harmony Hills on a monthly basis to help them with reading and math. Chesed is Hebrew for “kindness.”

“I’m so glad we were able to put this program together,” said Councilmember Navarro. “This is a wonderful program because both the mentors and mentees benefit from a deeper understanding of people from other cultures and backgrounds.”

The program was implemented by Dr. Levisohn, Harmony Hills Principal Ms. Robin Weaver, and the counselors overseeing the program, Mrs. Gila Landman and Mrs. Rafiya Senghor.

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Nancy in the News