Some say it could lead to larger class sizes, teaching positions eliminated.
The Frederick County Board of Education met on Monday to discuss funding for fiscal year 2014. Board members were talking over what would happen if only maintenance of effort appropriations were provided for FY '14. "It just doesn't maintain, and you need to move forward," says Jean Smith, Board of Ed President. "If you stay static, you're going backwards, and you just can't afford to do that."
Last month, the Board of Education approved a budget totaling $548.4-million, which is $15-million more than maintenance of effort. That's where the school system receives close to the same amount it got in its current budget. The County Commissioners have said they will only fund the school system at maintenance of effort for fiscal year 2014.
Smith says if maintenance of effort is all the public school system gets, it could lead to larger class sizes. "If you raise class size by one student, the way you get the money is you let 80 teachers go. One student per class gets rid of 80 teachers," she says. Also, Smith points out, that even adding just one student per class means whole classes are eliminated. "If you have three, fifth grade classes, and two, fourth grade classes, then you might get rid of one of those fifth grade teachers and then you got a problem with size of classes again," she says.
"It's 80 teaching positions are just gone, and if you do more, it just goes up exponentially. That would save $4-million," says Smith.
Other proposed cuts talked about on Monday include eliminating Extended Learning Opportunity positions, extra-curricular sports, health care coverage for employees, the Magnet Program and summer school.
"If we have to cut all these million-dollar things, it's just going to be bad for kids," says Smith.
She points out that the state is mandating a core curriculum be instituted in the fall, and that means training teachers in how it works. "Those things cost money," says Smith.
The County Commissioners have been criticized for trying to short-change public education, but they say they have been very fair when it comes to funding and support for education.