Last year we lost $4 million dollars and had to make significant staff reductions in order to balance the budget for this school year. Now, as we work on a budget for next school year, we are relieved to be in a much better place.
How did that happen in light of the fact that our enrollment went down by 24 students?
Let’s begin with county funds which provides about 55% of the operating budget. With a loss of 24 students and an increase in required local contribution to teacher pensions, we’ll have $750,000 less next year for general operating from county funds. This is based upon the assumption we will be funded at MOE (Maintenance of Effort), the minimum required by law.
Well that doesn’t look good does it?
But, Governor Hogan helped out a lot by putting more in the state budget for schools. In spite of the loss of enrollment, the Governor’s budget calls for an increase of around 3% for Calvert County Public Schools – that’s $2.3 million.
The Calvert County Board of Commissioners advised us that if we would include money for a step increase for our employees next year, they would be able to support it with more county funding in the following year. So, we took $3 million from fund balance to provide a raise for our employees next year. We are still behind in steps owed, but at least we won’t fall further behind.
We also combed through and tightened up our budget to release more dollars for our priorities. The end result for next school year is:
· No lay-offs
· A step pay increase for all
· Increase in funds for student supplies
· Increase in funds for classroom technology/digital learning
· Increase in funds for special education contractors
· And $1 million to cover increases in health insurance and workers comp
Wait. It gets even better. Last week we got even more good news. Governor Hogan announced a supplemental budget that included another $1.1 million in one-time funding for Calvert County Public Schools to ease the burden of lost enrollment. No decision has been made on how we might use that money, but my priorities lean toward security equipment and technology (including a modern phone system.)
We’re not rich and there is still much we need. Most of our employees are still behind by 3 steps which could amount to $8400 annually. Still, it is nice to have some sun shine on us for next school year. I see good days ahead.