Frederick County Public Schools Balances Its Budget

Members made some revenue adjustments & spending cuts for fiscal  year 2025.

Frederick, Md (KM) During a lengthy meeting Wednesday night, the Frederick County Board of Education made a number of spending cuts, and revenue adjustments, and managed to achieve a balanced budget for fiscal year 2025. The School System was facing a $5.9 million deficit, even with cuts made earlier in the month.

Among the revenue adjustments was a 75 percent increase for some groups to use its facilities. On May 15th, the Board had voted to increase that fee by  50 percent.

The most controversial move was a motion to bring up the athletic fee for students from $135 to $205 per season. The passing motion was made by Board of Ed member David Bass. “While none us has to feel good about increasing sports fees, I think in this very difficult budget it’s necessary,” he says.

His colleague, Dean Rose, came out against it. “We voted to increase sports fees to help to address this situation to $135,” Rose says. “At that time, I felt like that was appropriate. I don’t feel like  a 114 percent increase on the backs of our families and our athletes is appropriate so I will be voting no.”

Also making a comment was the Board of Education’s student member Brooke Lieberman. “I know a lot of my classmates and a lot of people in schools their parents tell them ‘if you want to play sports, you have to pay’.’ And we’re looking at this, it’s almost $800 over your high school career. And kids who have jobs are probably making minimum wage,:” she said.

During the discussion, Board of Ed member Jason “Mr. J” Johnson said this increase is part of a “shared pain.” Issac  Guessem, who’s a volunteer coach at Frederick High, responded. “A lot of the kids, right, they work because they have to. They have to contribute to the family. It isn’t because they want to. It isn’t because they want to get a car. It’s because they have to contribute to the family,”: he said.

The vote on  the increase in athletic fees was 5-2 with Dean Rose and Sue Johnson voting “no.”

Another way the School Board help bring down the deficit was increasing fees for some groups for the use of public school facilities. Some ways the BOE brought down spending was reducing the lunch monitor budget, and eliminating a curriculum specialist. They were told the person holding that position was planning to retire soon.

The Board of Education must have a balanced budget submitted to the state before the end of June.  Fiscal year 2025 begins on July 1st, 2024.

By Kevin McManus