The Howard County Board of Education is nearing the end of their initial FY 21 Operating Budget Process. Remaining on the schedule is one additional work session (February 11th) and then adoption of the budget on February 13th. Then is goes forward to HoCoGov and our County Council…before coming back to the board in May of 2020.
There has been a lot of talk about the last work session and I wanted to add my thoughts…thank goodness I have the blog that allows me to do that from time to time (LOL). Here is an example of what is being posted online about a decision made at the last work session (on February 6th):
**$33 MILLION IN CUTS TO STUDENT PROGRAMS AND SERVICES PROPOSED FOR FY21 BUDGET**
This week, the Board of Education met for their work session to discuss the FY21 operating budget. Instead of recommending a budget based on school needs, BOE member Jen Mallo proposed cutting $33 million from Superintendent Martirano’s proposal (since that was all that she thought that County Executive Ball would give them) and the Board passed this controversial motion in a 4-3 decision. The “savings” that they are considering include:
1) $7M for a 2 year-phase-in of the 217 Special Education positions
2) $5M by freezing new enrollment staffing
3) $2.4M by eliminating 36 Middle School GT positions
4) $10M by increasing class size by 1+
5) $1.4M by cutting Elementary Band/Strings (21 FTEs)
These proposed cuts only adds up to ~$25.8 million, which means that the Board is still looking for an additional $7.2 million in order to reach the needed $33 million in total savings.
The Board of Education will be holding an additional work session next Tuesday, February 11th at 12:00 PM. Please take a moment to write an email to the BoE, the County Council and County Executive and share your thoughts on these proposed cuts.
Is there really nothing else to cut from bloated areas of the budget (e.g. transportation!!!) to free up funding for critical student services such as desperately needed special education staff & resources and enriching student programs such as middle school gifted & talented, middle school music sectionals, elementary schools strings/band, and overall class sizes?
As many, including some Board members, have pointed out: the County Executive and the County Council will not provide funds that our board does not request.
A couple of points I would like to make in regards to what is posted above:
1 – This is an ask of $33 million less than the HCPSS Superintendent ask in his proposed budget…or better put…an ask of $30 million in additional funding for HCPSS in the operating budget next year ($24.2 million + 6 million in one time funding for the health care defect) instead of an ask of $63 million.
If you add up funding increases from the county to HCPSS over the last 4 budget cycles (FY2017 – FY2020) the total amount of new funding (including “one time funding”) is $63,055,375.
2 – HoCoGov sent a letter to the HoCoBOE outlining the budget outlook for next year and provided numbers for the HoCoBOE: https://scotteblog.com/2020/01/12/howard-county-government-sends-information-to-the-county-council-about-the-hcpss-superintendents-proposed-budget-for-fy2021/
Note in the document the expected revenue for the County next year: “Assuming revenue growth mirrors the $36.5 million generated in FY2020”.
3 – I think the starting point that the HoCoBOE is going with is appropriate. We can argue about what should or should not be cut from the HCPSS Superintendent proposal…but I think given the information we have from the county and historical funding they are starting at the right point (again…my opinion).
4 – The is little to no chance that if / when the requests moves forward later this month at $30 million in additional funding will the quest be fully funded. We will be right back at looking for areas to reduce again in May of 2020. I hope the HoCoBOE members start that sooner rather than later in the process.
I just wanted to make sure we all understand what is being discussed as we have these conversations.
I am all for advocating for the school system to receive as much funding as possible…and I highly recommend that you all reach out to board members, council members and the County Executive and advocate for that funding this year:
Michael Martirano: Superintendent@hcpss.org
Board of Education Members
Mavis Ellis, Chair: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicky Cutroneo, Vice Chair: email@example.com
Kirsten Coombs: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Delmont-Small: email@example.com
Jennifer Mallo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sabina Taj: email@example.com
Chao Wu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deb Jung: DJung@howardcountymd.gov
Opel Jones: email@example.com
Christiana Mercer Rigby:firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Walsh: email@example.com
David Yungmann firstname.lastname@example.org
Calvin Ball: CBall@howardCountymd.gov
Here are some recent articles that you might find helpful in this discussion with historical data and my opinions about that data:
Presentation of the Superintendent’s Proposed FY21 Operating Budget on January 9th
HCPSS Superintendent proposed operating budget looks for more than $63 million in additional county funding in 2021
Howard County Government sends information to the County Council about the HCPSS Superintendent’s proposed budget for FY2021