Board approves bud­get, el­e­men­tary redis­trict­ing

Wrap­ping up busi­ness be­fore sum­mer break

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

Wrap­ping up busi­ness be­fore sum­mer break, the Charles County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion on Tues­day ap­proved a new bud­get, a redis­trict­ing plan, a new con­tract for non-cer­tifi­cated staff and new out-of-county tu­ition rate in­creases.

The school board unan­i­mously ap­proved the su­per­in­ten­dent’s pro­posed el­e­men­tary school redis­trict­ing plan, which will

move ap­prox­i­mately 2,221 stu­dents from their pre­vi­ous zoned school, af­fect­ing all but six of the county’s schools.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Kim­berly Hill se­lected the plan over an­other pro­posed redis­trict­ing pro­posal, which would have moved more stu­dents and im­pacted more schools.

The plan was de­vel­oped due to the open­ing of the new Billings­ley El­e­men­tary, which is sched­uled to open its doors at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

The redis­trict­ing com­mit­tee was formed, com­prised of cen­tral of­fice staff, prin­ci­pals, par­ents and com­mu­nity mem­bers, to de­velop two redis­trict­ing pro­pos­als.

Three pub­lic hear­ings on the redis­trict­ing plans have been held, dur­ing which more than 50 par­ents have spo­ken out against mov­ing stu­dents out­side their cur­rently zoned schools.

Michael Heim, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of sup­port­ing ser­vices, said the im­pact on transportation from the pro­posal will be limited.

“The fi­nan­cial im­pact on transportation will be min­i­mal, no ad­di­tional buses will need to be added to the fleet due to the ad­di­tion of the new Billings­ley El­e­men­tary School, buses will be shifted to schools to ad­dress the changes in en­roll­ment at the af­fected schools,” Heim said. “The ma­jor­ity of the route times, if af­fected, will only in­crease the route times by five to 10 min­utes, with a few iso­lated cases of more than 10 min­utes.”

The school board also unan­i­mously ap­proved a $352.2 mil­lion bud­get for Fis­cal Year 2018, which in­cludes an es­ti­mated $4.1 mil­lion (or 2.5 per­cent) in­crease in state fund­ing and a $4.9 mil­lion (or 2.9 per­cent) in­crease in county fund­ing.

The bud­get is sched­uled to go to the Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers for cat­e­gor­i­cal ap­proval on June 20.

The bud­get in­cludes a re­serve for one STEP in­crease for ed­u­ca­tors and a 2 per­cent Cost of Liv­ing Ad­just­ment (COLA) in­crease for sup­port staff, said Randy So­tomayor, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of bud­get and fi­nance.

“The orig­i­nal op­er­at­ing bud­get re­quest was an in­crease of $20 mil­lion, and the fund­ing that we re­ceived is the equiv­a­lent of an $8 mil­lion in­crease, so we had to re­duce our re­quest by $12 mil­lion,” So­tomayor said.

The re­duc­tions come through elim­i­nat­ing the re­quest for funds to make up for missed STEP in­creases in FY 2011 and FY 2015, re­duc­tions in the num­ber of ad­di­tional English Lan­guage Learner po­si­tions re­quested, sav­ings on health care cost es­ti­mates and other mea­sures.

The school sys­tem ap­proved a con­tract with the sup­port staff union AF­SCME Lo­cal 2981, in­clud­ing the COLA in­crease, dur­ing its meet­ing.

John Groat, pres­i­dent of the AF­SCME chap­ter, thanked the board for the COLA in­crease.

“It’s re­ally a wel­come ad­di­tion and will im­prove the qual­ity of life for a lot of em­ploy­ees here,” Groat said.

Linda McLaughlin, pres­i­dent of the Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of Charles County, the union for teach­ers and other cer­tifi­cated em­ploy­ees, said a ten­ta­tive agree­ment with the school sys­tem has been reached and a rat­i­fi­ca­tion vote is cur­rently un­der­way.

“Our work on salaries is not done and will not be done un­til all our ed­u­ca­tors are on the cor­rect pay level and are be­ing com­pen­sated for the awe­some job they do ev­ery day,” McLaughlin said.

For the up­com­ing year, in-state tu­ition for nonCharles County stu­dents will be $7,740, an in­crease of 1.1 per­cent over last year. Out-of-state tu­ition will be $11,390, a de­crease of $50 over last year.

Ad­di­tional costs are in­curred for stu­dents re­ceiv­ing spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices, based on the types of ser­vices and/or transportation needed.

Bud­geted rev­enues from non-res­i­dent tu­ition are es­ti­mated at $541,200 for the up­com­ing school year.

The board does not hold a meet­ing in July. Its next sched­uled meet­ing is Aug. 8.

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