Announce by the Howard County Public School System on March 1st:

The Howard County Board of Education on February 25, 2021, adopted its Operating and Capital Budget Requests for the 2021-2022 school year (Fiscal Year 2022), and Capital Improvement Program for FY 2023-2027. The Board also approved its Long-Range Master Plan for FY 2022-2031. The budget requests will be submitted to the Howard County Executive in early March.

The FY 2022 Operating Budget Request totals $960.3 million, which is a $41.6 million, or 4.5% increase over the FY 2021 Operating Budget. Included in the total request is $18.7 million in one-time costs to eliminate the remaining Health Fund deficit. Net the one-time costs, the Board’s Requested Budget seeks $941.6 million for ongoing operations, or a 2.5% increase year over year.

The request for County funding totals $670.4 million, which is $50.1 million, or 8.1% over FY 2021. Net the one-time funding request of $18.7 million for the Health Fund deficit, the County funding request total $651.7 million, a year over year increase of $31.4 million, or 5.1%.

Consistent with the Governor’s Budget Proposal, the Board’s request is based on State and County revenues being held harmless for the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) decline attributable to the temporary decrease in enrollment for the current school year. Absent a hold-harmless provision, State and County revenues would decrease year over year by $32.3 million.

The balance of revenues to fund the Board’s budget request come from state, federal and other sources:

  • State revenue: $282.5 million
  • Federal and Other revenue: $7.4 million

“The Board’s budget request provides funding to meet our obligations and advance our most critical priorities, including special education staffing, technology, student well-being and essential early reading skills, and to eliminate the accumulated historical deficit in the Health fund, which has been a strain on the school system budget for several years,” said Board Chair Chao Wu. “Our request reflects the ongoing efforts by the Superintendent and Board to streamline operations and limit expenditure increases to enrollment commitments, fiscal obligations, and the most pressing needs. The Board understands the fiscal challenges and looks forward to discussions with the County Executive and other elected officials regarding our shared priorities for our students and schools.”

The FY 2022 request includes funding to meet Board obligations that include staff compensation, student transportation, and additions to staffing and other cost increases associated with enrollment growth. The request also includes funding to sustain the school system’s recent investments in technology and software, address critical shortages in special education, and to support student mental health services and dyslexia and reading instruction.

Additional to the $18.7 million one-time funding request to eliminate the accumulated Health Fund deficit, the Board’s request adds $9.1 million in other expenditures above those included in the Superintendent’s FY 2022 Operating Budget Proposal, including:

  • 75 positions and other expenses for a new Digital Education Center
  • 22 positions, including alternate education teachers and mental health therapists
  • 12 additional student services positions, including social workers, counselors and Pupil Personnel Workers (PPW)
  • Staff training and other expenses to support expanded use of the DIBELS early literacy skills assessment
  • 1 Board in-house legal counsel position

The Board also adopted the FY 2022 Capital Budget request totaling $108.0 million and the FY 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Program request totaling $363.6 million. The Capital Budget requests include funding for costs associated with construction of the Talbott Springs Elementary School Replacement, scheduled to open in fall 2022; construction of New High School #13, scheduled to open in fall 2023; and the Hammond High School Renovation and Addition, scheduled for completion in fall 2023. The budget request will ensure these three critical construction projects remain on schedule. Funding is also allocated for systemic renovations and ongoing projects including roofing, playground equipment, relocatable classrooms and technology.

Additionally, the Board approved the FY 2022-2031 Long-Range Master Plan, totaling $934.2 million, which includes funding for the construction for the Talbott Springs ES, New HS #13, and Hammond HS projects, as well as for planned renovations and additions at Dunloggin Middle School, Oakland Mills Middle School, and Centennial High School, and planned new construction of New Elementary Schools #43 and #44 and New High School #14.

The Board will submit its budget requests to Howard County Executive Calvin Ball in early March. Dr. Ball will submit his proposed budget to the County Council in April, and the County Council will adopt the Howard County budget in May. The Board is scheduled to approve the final FY 2022 Operating and Capital Budgets and FY 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Program on May 27, 2021.

The Operating and Capital budget requests are provided online.

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Some additional articles you should read on this budget season for HCPSS:

Feb 24th: Howard County Government letter to the Board of Education concerning the proposed HCPSS FY22 budgets

Feb 25th: (via Dr. Chao Wu) Potential FY 2022 Budget Reductions

Feb 26th: Howard County Board of Education sends forward a requested operating budget for FY22 that has no shot to be fully funded

Mar 1st: Howard County Releases Spending Affordability Advisory Committee Report for FY 2022


In the SAAC report (see above), the Committee urged elected officials to make hard choices in collaboration with stakeholders to match expenditures with resources and develop a balanced and sustainable budget. Key recommended strategies include:   

  • Pausing new CIP projects given the severe debt constraints  
  • Reducing new debt issuance over the next six years  
  • Prioritizing annual CIP budget to address maintenance backlog in existing infrastructure  
  • Balancing service needs as a full-service county especially amid a pandemic  
  • Funding the Howard County Public School System at the State-mandated level  
  • Developing a long-term strategic fiscal plan and promote commercial base growth

This is something to watch closely as the CE sends forward his proposed budget in April 2021.

Scott E

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