Another budget season for the Howard County Public School System and another budget request from the Howard County Board of Education that is VERY likely not to be fully funded…or even come close to the amount of money they are requesting. I provide you information provided to the public and my opinions in this article.
Here is my breakdown of the funding the Board is asking from Howard County Government for FY2022.
The Superintendent proposed budget summary for FY22:
A requested increase of more than $22 million from the County from the previous year.
Here is what the Board of Education approved to send forward on February 25th:
“Move approval of the County Appropriation in the total amount of $670,432,276 reflecting adjustments to the County Appropriation based on an increase of $9,139,728 to expenditures, as detailed in the state category pages. The County Appropriation also increases by $168,671 to absorb the decrease in state revenues based on Maryland State Department of Education Preliminary Draft Calculations. Additionally, a one-time funding request of $18,690,886 has been added to eliminate the remaining deficit in the Health Fund.”
This motion passed unanimously on February 25th.
So the total increase from FY21 to what is requested from the County by the Board in FY22 is now $50,132,276. There is no chance this is fully funded (my opinion).
In a recently letter from Howard County Government to the Howard County Board of Education the following was stated about the outlook for operating budgets:
“At the February 9th BOE Budget Work Session, the County Budget Office provided a preliminary economic outlook presentation for the members of the Board. In that presentation, it was communicated that the County was currently projecting $26.7 million in operating budget revenue growth for the FY2022 operating budget. After accounting for mandated expenditures like annual service payments related to the Courthouse P3 project ($9.9 million) and debt service payments ($3.3 million), just $12.9 million in funding growth remains to support the entirety of County public services, including 26 County government agencies, three educational entities (HCPSS, Howard Community College and the Howard County Library System), and our non- profit partners. Given the limited amount of available funding growth to support operating budgets across County public services, an operating budget increase to support HCPSS at the level proposed in the Superintendent’s request can only be achieved through either a significant reduction in all other services to the Community or a tax increase in FY2022.”
Look…the County tells you “$12.9 million in funding growth remains to support the entirety of County public services” and even if you get half of that money or a little more you get no where near the $50+ million requested by the Board of Education this year.
Another fact not being looked at (by some people) is the Maintenance of Efforts (MOE) number for FY22:
“The $932.1 million proposal includes a request for $642.4 million in County funding, representing a $22.1 million (3.6 percent) increase in County funding over the FY2021 HCPSS operating budget. This amount is $39.6 million higher than the formula-driven Maintenance-of-Efforts (MOE) County funding in FY 2022 based on the 2.8% drop in enrollment.”
Doing some basic math in my head…the formula-driven Maintenance-of-Efforts (MOE) number would be around $602.8 million for FY22. So the ask from the Board of Education would actually be around $68+ million above MOE.
Some things to consider:
- If the county funds the school system at the exact same amount as they did for FY21 this would be nearly $17 million above MOE. This is pretty significant if you look at past years funding as it relates to MOE. (See past budgets here)
- The enrollment numbers have continued to fall in the 2020-2021 school year in Howard County. Here are the latest numbers (Howard County Public School System continues to see falling enrollment numbers in January 2021)
- Given the enrollment numbers adding 225 new positions in the proposed budget might be a hard sell this year.
- I do believe the county will find some one-time funds for the deficit in the HCPSS Health Fund. I am not sure it will be the $18+ million requested but the county has shown a willingness to help address this issue within the school system budget.
- I love the idea of the Digital Education Center but this seems like a BIG money ask this year. I also wonder if reassigning existing teacher positions (again, given the current enrollment levels) could address a large portion of the amount funding requested for this initiative:
You can watch the last HoCoBOE meeting here: https://hcpsstv.new.swagit.com/videos/113387
You can look at other FY22 HCPSS Budget information here: https://www.hcpss.org/about-us/budgets/fy22/
Scheduled on Monday, April 19, 6:30pm – The County Executive will present his proposed Budget to the County Council. We will get a good idea about the school budget amount during that presentation.
I always wonder when I see these budgets move forward how much time, effort and money is spent to propose budgets that the entity knows can not be fully funded. Then how much time, effort and money is spent to scramble to make cuts to the proposals after the final amount comes back from the County. This is a year in and year out process of making asks and then having to make cuts to the proposed budgets that is frustrating to watch play out.
Have thoughts…let me know in the comments.