Frederick County School Board Adopts FY ’24 Operating Budget, Capital Budget

It also heard more testimony on Policy 443.

Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County Board of Education on Wednesday adopted an operating budget for fiscal year 2024. The spending plan totals $910 million which is ten-percent over the current budget. The School System says the spending plan concentrates on attracting and retaining staff for a growing student population.

“This budget provides for critical staff and resources for all students, especially those with the greatest needs, addresses significant budgetary challenges and supports the Blueprint For Maryland’s Future priorities,”: says Dr. Cheryl Dyson, Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools, in a statement..

The Board also adopted a new capital budget totaling $157 million. It includes the co-location of Middletown Middle and Elementary Schools, an addition to Crestwood Middle School, and replacements for Green Valley, Valley and Yellow Springs Elementary Schools.

The School Board also approved new, two-year contracts with the Frederick County Teachers Association, the Frederick Association of School Support Employees and the Frederick County Administrative and Supervisory Association.

The new fiscal year begins on July first.

But prior to those votes, the School Board heard more testimony on Policy 443, which prohibits discrimination, stigmatization, harassment and bullying of transgender or gender non-conforming students. Lisa Shireeka told the Board of Ed it needs to concentrate on teaching children the basics, and not about human sexuality issues. “Out of 30 nations, our nation is now at the bottom at 27th. We have lost focus in the public school system. We are wasting the precious time of our children, and precious tax dollars and not teaching what is needed which is the basics,” she said.

Donna Heinzel noted that Board Member David Bass had said that Police 443 is a “done deal.” “He says that we should move on to a more important topic like reading, writing and arithmetic. Now let me tell you what I think, Mr. David Bass, there’s no done deal until we say it’s a done deal,”  she said.

Mr. Bass did not respond to that comment.

Mike Reid from the Frederick Secular Humanists, testified in support of the policy. He said it reflects current scientific understanding of gender identity, sexual orientation and trans-gender youth. “The best practice gold standard for treating transgender and non-binary youth both  in medical and mental health care is gender affirming care,” he said. “This includes but is not limited to allowing youth to answer to a name matching their gender identity, dressing to match their gender identity, being referred  by their preferred pronouns, and being allowed access to appropriate bathrooms and changing areas.”

Reid ended his comments by saying:  “The Frederick Secular Humanists commends the Board of Education for adhering to science-based, rational decision making in regards to policies for transgender and non-binary youth,” he said. “We hope the Board of Ed  continues to follow evidence-based practices for all future policies, and is not swayed by extremist religious opinions.”

Without mentioning Policy 443, Board Member Nancy Allen encouraged parents to continue to advocate for their children.

By Kevin McManus