Board approves budget, elementary redistricting
Wrapping up business before summer break
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.