Frederick County School Board Adopts FY ’24 Budget Calendar

Members also outlined their spending priorities for the next fiscal year.

Frederick, Md (KM) The budget drafting process has begun for Frederick County Public Schools. The Board of Education Wednesday night approved a budget calendar for fiscal year 2024.

Members also outlined their budget priorities for the next fiscal year. School President Brad Young, who noted that he’s going off the Board at the end of the year because his term is expiring and he’s running for an at large seat on  the County Council, said his top priority is putting more mental health professionals in public schools. “The services and needs for those have only increased and I think will continue to do so,”: he said. “And I hope that the Board continues to try to get us down to the ratios that are considered to be acceptable for school systems and the amount of counselors and psychologists to our student population.”

That request was supported by Board of Ed member Karen Yoho. She said a lot of students come to school with family problems, and other issues which keep  them from learning. “It would lovely to think we could get them in our schools and they would be the little sponges. But our students are dealing with a lot. And so we need to clear the slate for them to be able to be the little sponges we know they can be, and that’s going to take more personnel,” she said.,

Another priority came from School Board Member David Bass, who wants to see more funding for the English Language Learners program. “I’m not certain whether it would be most effective around additional teachers for English learners or other staff, or innovative curriculum. But certainly, additional funding for our programs serving English learners,” he said.

That priority received support from Lucas Tessarollo, the School Board’s student member. “Coming from TJ where around a third of the population is Hispanic students and where we have the biggest program for English language learners, I know that in a lot of situations, they are in desperate need of more assistance in that department,” he said.

Another spending priority brought up by School Board member Karen  Yoho calls for expanding  career technology for students. It’s already part of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future  passed by the General Assembly. “However we can find creatively–and again, this isn’t  necessary for the operating budget—whether we have to go to public-private partnerships or put more in our schools, we have to expand it,”: she said.

School Board member Jay Mason had a small request: funding for the recently formed Students of Color Alliance, which connects students of color throughout the county. “They’re planning their first event, I think in October, and it would nice to be able to support them financially to help their organization grow and impact many of the students in FCPS,” Mason says.

Priorities listed by the School System’s budget office include funding for the recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force which looked into the special education program, including an audit recently ordered by the Board of Ed. Also included is the Blueprint For Maryland’s Future salary requirements, and addressing enrollment growth and inflationary costs.

Under the schedule, Board of Education members and School System departments will be asked to submit their budget requests over the next few months. The Superintendent is scheduled to release her proposed fiscal year 2024 budget on January 9th, 2023. The Board will  hold a discussion on the spending plan on January 11th. An all day worksession  will take place on January 18th. A public hearing on the operating budget is scheduled for  February 1st,  and the School Board will approve its budget request on February 8th. It will be sent off to the County Executive where it will possibly be modified and absorbed into the County’s proposed budget.

After hearings and possible revisions, the County Council will adopt its fiscal year 2024 budget. The School System’s allocations will be sent back to the Board of Education which will vote on it on June 28th. Fiscal year 2024 begins on July 1st, 2023, and that’s when the new  budget will take affect.

By Kevin McManus