Speakers wanted full funding for the Board of Ed’s budget request.
Frederick, Md (KM). There was strong support expressed for public schools during the County Executive Jan Gardner’s budget hearing Monday night. Most speakers called for full funding for the Frederick County Board of Education’s budget request. “This is an investment in Frederick County that cannot go underfunded,” said Frederick County Teachers Association President Missy Dirks. “The BOE’s budget is not a list of wants filled with new initiatives. It is a responsible budget based the needs of the system and its students.”
County Executive Gardner has promised to fund the school by $3.8-million over maintenance of effort. The Board of Education is asking for $16.6-million in addition funding.
Most of the speakers wanted to see funding continue for a new salary scale to help make teacher pay more competitive. “A quality education system depends on the quality of its educators. With FCPS ranking still being so low, we continue to have a hard time retaining our well trained, experienced teachers. In fact, the staffing report on board docs just this week shows that resignations have increased since last year,” says Dirks.
Jonathon Rouzo, a teacher with the Frederick County School System, also called for full funding for new salary scale. He says a friend in the Montgomery County School System has suggested he come and work there, and he’s received a recruitment message from the DC Public School System.
Charlie Berry said this additional funding is needed because the school system is still recovering from several years of maintenance of effort funding, where it only received the same percentage of funding it received the previous year. “Parents and students still deal with the increased class size because of underfunding. Elimination of programs is still a huge problem in the county. Reduction of funding for many, many, many more programs is still going on. The program still exists, but it’s a shell,” he said.
In related testimony, Frederick Community College President Libby Burmaster said the school, is asking for $1.1-million to give employees a 2% cost of living increase with benefits. “It’s critical that we provide an increase to our employees to mitigate rising costs and to remain competitive in the workforce,” she said.
She notes that FCC has three sources of funding: the state, the county and tuition. Burmaster said tuition will be going up at FCC by 0.84% for in county students, less than 1%.. “And this would mean only an increase of $35 a semester for a full time student taking 12 credits,” she said.
County Executive Gardner said the county only has $13.8-million in unallocated funds, and $32-million in budget requests.
She is expected to release her fiscal year 2018 budget next month. While property tax revenue is growing, Gardner says income tax revenues are flat. But the goods news is there will be no tax rate increases.
By Kevin McManus