It totals $550-million.
A proposed fiscal year 2015 budget for the Frederick County School System was released on Thursday night before a crowd at the Oakdale High School Auditorium. "My recommended budget of $550-million is only a 3.3% over last year's budget," says Superintendent of Schools Dr. Terry Alban. "It's a modest increase and it's a responsible increase." That increase is about $17,355,824.
She says the budget focuses on attracting and retaining quality teachers and staff, and ensuring that all schools have adequate and current resources to educate students. "The budget that I'm proposing mirrors the priorities that I've heard from our parents, from our teachers, from our administrators and our community leaders," Dr. Alban says.
The budget will be formally presented to the Board of Education on January 22nd. The panel will hold a hearing on the spending plan on February 5th at Oakdale High at 7:00 PM. Adoption of the spending plan is scheduled for February 26th, with a presentation to the County Commissioners on March 1st. The Commissioners will hold their hearing on the Board of Ed's budget on May 6th at 6:00 PM at Oakdale High. They're expected to approve the budget on June 11th.
For a number of years, the School System has operated under a Maintenance of Effort budget, where it only receives the same percentage of funding each year. Dr. Alban says that's made it difficult to meet expenses, as well as mandates. In addition, she says 26% of students come from families who live in poverty. There have also been increases in special education students, especially those with autism, as well as more students who are English language learners. Dr. Alban says Maintenance of Effort funding can't meet the needs of these students. "And those needs continue to grow. But so do the expectations, and the requirements, and the mandates, and the inflationary costs. And that's why maintenance of effort hurts," she says.
If the budget request is approved, Dr. Alban says the School System could start addressing these needs. "Does it make up for years of Maintenance of Effort funding," asked Dr. Alban rhetorically. "No," she answered. "But it starts to position us and get us ready to move forward for a day when more meaningful investment in education happens."
Outside of her proposed budget, Dr. Alban says she will ask the County Commissioners for a one-time appropriation of $6-million for technology upgrades.
The budget request is $17.5-million more in expenditures than revenues. But Dr. Alban hopes to work with the County Commissioners to help balance the budget request as revenues are more firmly established, according to a handout provided by the School System.