RM students walk out in protest of reduced education budget


Claire Xu

RM Students met in the bus loop during lunch before beginning the walkout.

RM students, led by schoolwide president Sami Saeed, walked to the County Council building during lunch on May 11 to advocate for funding the new MCPS budget. The walkout occurred at lunch, with students asking for better infrastructure, the waiving of exam fees and an increase in teacher salaries. 

In March, County Executive Mark Elrich released his recommended Operating Budget for the 2024 Fiscal Year of $6.8 billion, a 7.7 percent increase from the previous year. Approximately $3.2 billion would be allocated to MCPS. 

In his budget brief, Elrich said that the proposed budget serves to address the learning and social and emotional loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Elrich said the budget was to improve student performance, citing the 2022 MCAP results, in which only 31 percent of MCPS students scored proficient in math and 53 percent in reading. 

“This funding is needed to recruit and retain outstanding educators and other essential school staff, as well as to address the increase in special education enrollment, which requires additional staff,” Elrich said in his message. However, the County Council wants to reduce the budget given to MCPS by 22.3 million dollars which would make the proposed property tax hike 9% instead of the original budget’s 10%. This proposal was disappointing for staff and students alike. 

Students especially want more funding to go into waiving exam fees. “It would benefit every student in MCPS since knowing that their families aren’t able to pay for the tests can refrain them from actually taking a test or participating in a course that they find interesting,” freshman Jessica Yao said. 

The original budget also addresses issues with teacher salary as SMOB elect Saeed said, “One of the biggest [issues] is increasing staff salaries… because we don’t have the highest in the state yet we have the highest cost of living. So a lot of teachers are moving to other countries… they’re not working, they’re choosing not to work anymore, and it’s showing cause we have 180 vacancies.” The debate is ongoing and the Council meeting on May 12 to discuss these issues gave no clear solution to the problem.