CCPS be­gins bud­get par­ing

Min­i­mal county fund­ing re­sults in pro­posal re­duc­tions

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— Ahead of an ex­pected main­te­nance of ef­fort bud­get al­lo­ca­tion from the Ce­cil County Coun­cil, school of­fi­cials on Mon­day night dis­cussed how to cut roughly $1.6 mil­lion from their pro­posed fis­cal year 2017 bud­get.

The ma­jor­ity of those cuts will come from re­duc­ing the num­ber of pro­posed new po­si­tions, leas­ing tech­nol­ogy and ve­hi­cles in­stead of pur­chas­ing them, and post­pon­ing the re­place­ment of the an­ti­quated Elk­ton High School video cam­era sys­tem, Tom Kap­pra, Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, told the school board.

The board will vote to ap­prove the fi­nal ver­sion of its fis­cal year 2017 bud­get next Mon­day fol­low­ing the county coun­cil’s bud­get vote this week.

“We’ll keep our fin­gers crossed for this time to­mor­row,” School Board Pres­i­dent Dawn Branch said of the coun­cil vote.

The ap­proval of the fi­nal fis­cal year 2017 bud­get next

ELK­TON

week will rep­re­sent the end of a long bud­get sea­son for CCPS.

Fol­low­ing a num­ber of bud­get pre­sen­ta­tions from school of­fi­cials in Jan­uary, the school board in Fe­bru­ary ap­proved a bud­get that asked the county for a 3.1 per­cent, or roughly $2.49 mil­lion, in­crease in funds. But in April, County Ex­ec­u­tive Tari Moore gave the school sys­tem main­te­nance of ef­fort fund­ing, which trans­lates to a 1.1 per­cent or roughly $860,000 in­crease.

Main­te­nance of ef­fort refers to a state law that re­quires a county to fund its pub­lic schools at an amount no less than the per-pupil aver­age pro­vided the prior year, with adjustments for changes in en­roll­ment.

To ac­count for the smaller county in­crease in fund­ing, school of­fi­cials pro­posed par­ing down the num­ber of new po­si­tions it hopes to add from 28.9 full-time equiv­a­lent (FTE) po­si­tions to 19.4 FTE po­si­tions. That means two pro­posed stu­dent ser­vices re­source teach­ers will be cut as will a pro­posed so­cial stud­ies re­source teacher and a pro­posed in­crease in classroom teach­ers, Kap­pra said.

The big­gest cut to the pro­posed po­si­tions though is in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion, which will now see an in­crease of six classroom teach­ers in­stead of the pro­posed 13. De­spite this de­crease though, the sys­tem plans to in­crease fund­ing for con­tracted oc- cu­pa­tional and phys­i­cal ther­a­pists by a to­tal of about $500,000 due to in­creased need, Kap­pra said.

Board Vice Pres­i­dent Wendy Win­ter­s­gill said that of all the changes to the pro­posed bud­get, how­ever, the de­crease in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion classroom teach­ers wor­ries her the most.

“Those spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion po­si­tions were added for good rea­son. That’s our hard­est mea­sure to move. Th­ese kids need a lot of ad­di­tional sup­port in or­der to reach their po­ten­tial growth and when we keep play­ing with the po­si­tions in the spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion arena, I’m re­ally con­cerned about that,” she said. “We’re go­ing to have to keep a real tight watch on what’s hap­pen­ing there. ”

Cut­ting those

9.5

posi- tions, will re­sult in $486,489 in sav­ings plus an­other $369,733 in health care sav­ings, Kap­pra said. The school sys­tem will also save $152,732 by wait­ing to re­place the Elk­ton High cam­era sys­tem, $102,555 by leas­ing four ve­hi­cles in­stead of pur­chas­ing them and $394,354 by leas­ing com­put­ers for three years in­stead of buy­ing them, he added.

But the school sys­tem will see some ad­di­tional fed­eral money, Kap­pra said. The sys­tem’s in­creased num­ber of students who qual­ify for free and re­duced meals (FARM) — a marker for lower in­come fam­i­lies — means it will re­ceive about $150,000 more in Ti­tle I fed­eral funds for fis­cal year 2017. Sim­i­larly, an in­crease in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion stu­dent en­roll­ment re­sulted in a $86,223 in­crease in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion fed­eral funds, Kap­pra said.

The in­crease in Ti­tle I funds is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant though be­cause when Per­ryville Ele­men­tary School re­opens in Au­gust, it will be­come the sys­tem’s eighth Ti­tle I school. In ad­di­tion, its num­ber of FARM students will move it ahead of Bay View Ele­men­tary School, Kap­pra said.

School of­fi­cials have not yet fi­nal­ized how those Ti­tle I funds will be used at Per­ryville but they will likely go to­ward ad­di­tional sup­port staff at the school, Kap­pra said.

Out­side of the op­er­at­ing bud­get, Kap­pra said he hasn’t heard any­thing from the coun­cil about changes to the cap­i­tal bud­get, so he as­sumes that re­quest will be un­changed. The county fund­ing for the cap­i­tal bud­get in­cludes fund­ing to break ground on the new Gilpin Manor Ele­men­tary School and fund­ing for the third year of the Broad­band Tech­nol­ogy Op­por­tu­ni­ties Progam (BTOP) project.

In ad­di­tion, a fed­eral grant will re­sult in sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings on the cost of the BTOP project and CCPS has pro­posed that th­ese sav­ings be used to fund the Per­ryville High School cool­ing tower re­place­ment, the Ce­cil Manor Ele­men­tary School wa­ter­line in­stal­la­tion and part of the Bo­hemia Manor Mid­dle and High School wa­ter­line in­stal­la­tion, Kap­pra said.

The county coun­cil is ex­pected to vote on redi­rect­ing th­ese funds in the com­ing weeks, Kap­pra said.

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