County residents rally in favor of proposed MCPS budget


Liam Darnell

The Montgomery County Council conducts a public hearing about the proposed budget while MCPS students hold signs in a show of support for the measure.

By Liam Darnell

Montgomery County residents rallied outside of the County Council Office in favor of the Board of Education’s proposed 2023 budget on Thursday, April 13. The rally preceded a public hearing held by the County Council to discuss the community’s views on the budget. SMOB Arvin Kim organized a group of students who attended the hearing to support the proposal.

The fiscal year 2024 budget plan would almost fully fund the Board’s request for a $296 million increase over the current budget and allow for additional funding for essential services like healthcare, recreation and emergency response.

At the hearing, 53 community members shared their views on the budget plan, many of whom indicated support for the measure. Approximately 30 MCPS students attended to also express their approval of the proposal. MCPS student Kevin Nguyen, an attendee, believes that making AP and IB tests more affordable — one of the provisions outlined in the budget — will uplift underprivileged students.

“As a child of immigrant parents from Vietnam, I feel that having financial difficulties can definitely impact my education,” Nguyen said. “So, it’s necessary that we are able to address these economic problems.”

The rest of the students were similarly supportive of the new budget as they held signs at the meeting demanding “funding for our future.”

Various groups, including the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), attended the rally to endorse the proposal. MCEA Fellow Member Organizer Robert Barnes believes that the increased budget would contribute to higher teacher retention rates and a greater quality of education.

“This is a step in the right direction to ask for a slight tax increase to make sure that [teachers] are aptly compensated for the work they do each and every day on the behalf of our community,” Barnes said.

National Education Association Director Michelle Alexander, a member of the Maryland State Education Association, said Thursday’s rally marked a more unified approach to education advocacy. This year, the boost in funding encouraged advocacy groups to join together in their support despite a lack of united movement for education funding in previous years, she said.

“I think there has been a philosophy of divide and conquer because that way you can negotiate different salaries and benefits with different groups,” Alexander said. “[The budget proposal] is really historic because all the different constituent groups are coming together under our Superintendent and the Board to go to the County Council.”

SMOB Arvin Kim emphasized the importance of the budget proposal in boosting resources for education and benefiting the community. The budget would help retain qualified staff who are vital to the functioning of schools and the community at large, he said.

“Public education for generations in our country has symbolized opportunity,” Kim said. “By preparing students for college and career, and by equipping them to be successful in whatever they pursue, we are doing a service to the community.”