She says she wants to get beyond maintenance of effort funding.
The "Rally Around The Promise" at Tuscarora High Thursday night was more than just an introduction of the school system's budget for fiscal year 2014, according to Frederick County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Terry Alban. "We're not introducing a budget. We're introducing a conversation," she says. "We want to celebrate the wonderful schools that we have, and talk about what it's going to take to keep those schools strong in the future."
Following the music and entertainment from the students, Dr. Alban presented her budget which totals $547,341,342, which is a 4.6% increase, or $24,253,702, over the current spending plan.
She says for the past three years, the school system has been operating under maintenance of effort funding, which means the Board of Education receives the amount of money it was appropriated the previous year. But Dr. Alban says minimal funding won't help the public school system meet the challenges of the future. "We've been incredibly successful by the old standards. We want to be number one by the new standards too," she says. "And in order to do that, we're going to have to ramp up. And our neighbors are ramping up: Howard County, Montgomery County, Washington County. And if we're not moving forward, we're falling behind."
Dr. Alban says her budget reflects what citizens have said they want to see in their public schools. She says her spending plan is based on three goals: quality teachers and staff, technology and security and public safety.
$11-million has been set aside in the spending plan to attract, hire and retain good employees. "That will simply allow us to provide the services and the programs which our students need," she says. "Because when we talk about quality teachers and staff, we are really talking about student achievement."
Dr. Alban also wants more upgrades in technology, including wireless communications at all schools, not just some. She says the County Commissioners have provided funding for technology, but it's not enough. "But even with all of these investments, we're still falling behind when it comes to technology. I often wonder if you can go into Panera and have wireless, why can't you walk into our public schools and have wireless," she said to the applause of the audience.
She says school security is addressed in her budget, with $1.6-million appropriated for technology to make schools safer. This emphasis on safety follows last month's school shootings in Connecticut, where 26 people, including 20 children, were killed.
"This budget does not meet all of our needs," says Dr. Alban. "But it begins to build a foundation, and it's definitely a start in the right direction."
She asked the public to continue to be part of the conservation about the school system's budget, and testify at a public hearing on February 6th.
The spending plan will be voted on by the Board of Education and then head over to the County Commissioners, who will hold their own public hearings on the budget.