The County Executive has proposed $20-million above MOE for public education in her proposed budget.
Frederick, Md (KM) There was a lot of support expressed Tuesday night during a Frederick County Council hearing for increased funding for public education. The operating budget proposed by County Executive Jan Gardner for fiscal 2022 totals $717.2-million. The capital budget is $184.2-million The County Executive is proposing $20-million above maintenance of effort for the School System. Maintenance of effort is the amount of money a school system can receive to keep it functioning for the next fiscal year. School System officials say that doesn’t allow for any new programs or expansions of programs.
“I am in full support of County Executive Gardner’s proposed budget,” said Jay Mason, President of the Board of Education, who spoke during the hearing. “Consistently providing above maintenance of effort funding for the past six years has allowed FCPS to push forward to support student needs.”
The President of the Frederick County Teachers Association, Missy Dirks, says additional money is needed to make up for years of underfunding. “Additional funding is needed to lower student-to-teacher ratio, provide mental health support, and provide additional instructional time for most significantly impacted students,” she said.
Similar comments were echoed by Megan Foyle, a fourth grade teacher. “There are many disparities in our schools today from being last in the state for per-pupil funding, class sizes that are out of control and a non-bargaining issue at the state level, the loss of quality teachers to neighboring counties which continues to happen year after year, and an increased in adverse childhood experiences where our shortage of counselors cannot meet the needs of our students,” she said.
The Council also heard from Libby Burmaster, the President of Frederick Community College. She expressed gratitude for the $1.5-million in additional funding for FCC proposed in the County Executive’s fiscal year 2022 budget.. But she said the county needs to restore the $3.5-million cut from FCC’s 2021 budget due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “For fiscal 2022, we must restore needed positions that were frozen and other custom services that were necessary due to the financial impact of the pandemic,” she said.
Elizabeth Brown of Frederick expressed support for the new positions being added for Animal Control, as well as more funding for licensing and micro-chipping; and for renovation of the Animal Shelter. “The renovation and addition project that is included in the capital improvements portion of the budget will help bring our county shelter into the 21st century, with improvements that will help reduce the stress of the animals housed there, and decrease the risk of disease transmission and increase conditions for staff,” she said.
The County Council is expected to hold workshops on the proposed budget next week.
By Kevin McManus