Monday, October 13, 2014

Budget Basics / Budget Cuts Needed

Although the school year has just begun, some of us in the district office are beginning to build a budget for next school year.   The process takes months with numerous opportunities for input from stake holders.

Here are some basics regarding the Calvert County Public Schools budget for this school year.

Total Unrestricted funds:             $200,000,000

58% of this total comes from the county and 40% comes from state.  The other 2% is local with a small amount of federal dollars included.

Unrestricted funds means money that is flexible to use as we need it.  We receive other funds from some grants and federal dollars that are restricted to certain purposes so we don’t include that money when planning for general expenditures.    

Our present budget was built using $2.6 million dollars from our reserves (savings account).  That is, we are and have been for a few years, spending more than we take in.  That’s called deficit spending.

On a daily basis I hear from folks in this community who want us to spend more money.

·         Teachers would like a raise

·         Support staff would like a raise

·         Bus drivers would like a raise

·         Class sizes too large – hire more teachers

·         Etc.

I would like to be able to do some of those things, but first I believe we must live within our means.  So, if next year we are to build a budget without taking from our reserves (if we have any left) we must cut our spending by $2.6 million.   I would also like to have at least $3 million to provide raises to our employees.  Assuming there will be no additional money coming our way, we must therefore plan to cut $5.6 million from our current spending plan for next year.

Of each dollar in our budget, almost 85 cents is spent on salary and fixed charges (SS, insurance, Medicaid, retirement, etc).  It is impossible to make any significant reductions in our budget without reducing the number of employees.

Not an easy task, reducing employees to reduce costs and provide pay raises for those who are left.  I’m open to suggestions. 


  1. How much is switching over to common core standards costing the county? From what I have researched I can bet it is costing the county much more than 2.6million?

  2. I put this question to Scott McComb, CCPS Director of Instruction. He said:
    Much of the cost of transitioning to the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core) has been provided through the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) from the Race to the Top Grant. At the onset of Maryland’s adoption of the Common Core, MSDE provided funds for teachers, building-based administrators, and central office leaders to attend training academies called Educator Effectiveness Academies. These academies were essential to building the knowledge base of teachers and administrators related to the Common Core and were funded entirely by Race to the Top Grant funds. Additionally, MSDE has provided funds that CCPS has used for curriculum writing, teacher professional development, and purchase of equipment and assessment tools to support the new curriculum aligned with the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards (MCCRS). As a result of this funding, a significant portion of the cost of transition CCPS to the new MCCRS was provided with grant funds.

    It is true that CCPS also expended local funds to improve and update curriculum and develop new assessments. However, our school system has always budgeted money to support curriculum revision and assessment development. This is a part of our ongoing effort to consistently improve and refine the curriculum we offer students and would have happened regardless of the adoption of the new MCCRS.

    It is also true that CCPS has expended local funds to provide teachers with professional development which is aligned with the MCCRS. However, once again funding for professional development experiences for teachers predates the adoption of new standards within the state and would also have continued to occur.

    Finally, CCPS has had to purchase new instructional materials that align with the MCCRS. This cost was necessitated by the adoption of new curriculum aligned with the standards. In some instances, Race to the Top funds were used to make these purchases and in other cases local funds were used to cover additional purchases. Nevertheless, these purchases represent only a small fraction of the overall school system budget and were not significant in overall school system expenditures.

  3. I appreciate your transparency in discussing the budget with regards to teacher raises. I am curious about where some money has gone. According to the 2013-2014 Teacher Recruitment and Placement Report there were 37 retirees last year. It also states that there were 30 new teachers hired that were first year teachers with no experience. If, of the 37 retirees, 30 of them were making only the average salary of $74,046 when they retired, that would account for $2,221,380. If the 30 new hires that replaced them were hired at step 1 and they all had a master's degree, they would be making $48,076 each and would account for $1,442,280. The financial difference for the county of retirees leaving near the top and replacements hired on the bottom being $779,100 in budget savings each year that no step or raise is given to the rest of the teachers. What has happened with that money? This same logic can be applied to 3 out of the last 4 years because teachers were not given a step or a raise yet there were retirees and new hires each year. In the last 4 years the county would have saved about $2.2 million total by not giving a step or a raise to teachers just due to retirees. I would first think that this surplus money in the teacher salaries is what went toward paying the increased healthcare costs, but the budget shows that nearly the same amount of money was allocated per teacher for teacher salaries and that the average teacher salary was increased slightly for the 2015 budget. How does the county have teachers that retire from the top of the pay scale get replaced by teachers at the bottom of the pay scale and have average salaries increase without giving any steps or raises? It seems like there should either be a decrease in the average salary, or a decrease in the total allocation for teacher salaries based on the number of retirees. If there is the same total amount allocated per teacher, with more teachers earning at the bottom, then shouldn't all teachers be able to be given a step or a raise with the surplus money created by the retirees?

  4. Dr Curry you could save thousands of dollars by eliminating the tax payer funded transportation for daycare transfer students to/from for profit large day care centers. It is worthwhile to also consider requiring parents to enroll in their schools before or after care program before being granted an out of district daycare transfer. People use this policy to obtain school choice and it is widely abused at CCPS. Eliminate the policy all together and the administrative staff retained to enforce it can be used doing more productive tasks. I challenge you to ask people where they go to school and then ask where they live. Curious to hear what you find....welcome to CCPS and thank you for the transparency.