Frederick County School Board Approves Fiscal Year 2024 Budget To Take To A Public Hearing

It totals more than $939-million.

Frederick, Md (KM) After almost two hours of  discussion, the Frederick County Board of Education on Wednesday night approved a fiscal year 2024 budget for the School System which will go to  a public hearing.   It totals $939-million which is more than the spending plan proposed by Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Dyson which is $933-million.

The issue which generated the most discussion had to do with the salary resource pool which is used to attract and retain teachers and staff. The Superintendent had recommended it be at six-percent. But School Board Member Karen Yoho said that would not be adequate, noting that Frederick County has some of the lowest starting pay for teachers in Maryland. She said it may not be enough to attract and retain good instructors. “We can’t keep telling our people you’re the most important thing to us, and then be the lowest paid new teacher,” she said.

Board of Ed President Sue Johnson introduced an amendment to put the salary resource pool at nine-percent, which would add $14.8-million dollars to the budget. Member David Bass said it would take money away from other programs, particularly ones for special education students. “To me, we would be turning our back on the commitments we made to improve special education in this county,.” he said.

School Board Vice President Dean Rose agreed. “Because we do have a responsibility to our special education students,” he said. “When it comes time, and if that time does come that we have to make cuts, that is not an area which I would consider.

In response, Board Member Rae Gallagher said offering attractive salaries complements special education. “How critical the people in those positions, having highly trained,  highly qualified people in those positions and running the program are, and making sure we can meet the needs of our students. And that come back in our ability to recruit and retain highly qualified educators,”: she said.

That amendment was defeated.

Another amendment to put the salary resource pool at 7.14 percent was approved. That would add $5..6-million to the Board of Education’s budget.

The School Board will hold a public hearing on this budget on Wednesday, February 1st at Frederick High beginning at 7:00 PM.

A vote to approve the budget is scheduled for February 8th. After that, the budget will be sent to the County Executive who will introduce her proposed spending plan in April.

By Kevin McManus