School board approves fiscal year 2017 budget
— With only a little more than two weeks to go before the end of the fiscal year, the Cecil County Board of Education officially adopted its fiscal year 2017 budget on Monday night.
The $195.9 million operating budget includes a 1.1 percent, or roughly $860,000, maintenance of effort increase in county funding for a total county appropriation of $80.6 million.
After spending last week’s meeting discussing how to pare down its original budget request — which asked for a 3.1 percent, or about $2.49 million, increase
in county funding — the school board passed the final budget on Monday night without any discussion or changes.
“We have a small increase in federal funding, a significant increase in state funding and a maintenance of effort budget from the county,” Superintendent D’Ette Devine said. “Both the county council and the county executive did support our capital funding, which we very much appreciate.”
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 pared down the number of new positions they hoped to add from 28.9 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions to 19.4 FTE positions. The majority of those cuts came from reducing the proposed increase in classroom special education teachers from 13 to six.
Other than the new staff reductions, the school system also plans to save money by delaying the replacement of the aging Elkton High School camera system and by leasing some technology and vehicles instead of buying them.
The board also approved the fiscal year 2017 capital budget, which includes funding for nine construc- tion projects.
Some of the biggest allocations are for elementary school construction projects, including $4,038,000 in state funding for the new Gilpin Manor Elementary School, the remaining state and local funds for the Perryville Elementary School renovations and $900,000 in county funds to purchase the land for the new Chesapeake City Elementary School.
Construction on Perryville Elementary is set to wrap up this summer with students scheduled to return to the school in August. Officials hope to put the Gilpin Manor project out to bid this summer with construction starting in early fall.
Other projects in the capital budget are boiler replacements at Bohemia Manor Middle and High School, Kenmore Elementary School, Cherry Hill Middle School and Thomson Estates Elementary School, a new roof and exterior restoration for Cecilton Elementary School and the final year of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).
The school system also expects to receive a federal grant for part of the BTOP funding and has proposed using those savings to fund the Perryville High School cooling tower replacement and installing a waterline at Cecil Manor Elementary School as well as fund part of the Bohemia Manor Middle and High School waterline installation.