Commissioners give additional $400,000 to school board
CENTREVILLE — County Commissioner Jim Moran began the Tuesday, June 14, meeting by reading a proclamation listing the accomplishments Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol Williamson had amassed during her time in charge of the county’s public school system. Commissioner Mark Anderson then presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
But then, in her last chance to speak to the commissioners in her role as superintendent, Williamson requested and was granted an additional $400,000 for the board of education’s budget in a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Steve Wilson and Mark Anderson opposed.
The commission already had approved $937,000 more than then state-mandated maintenance of effort, but Williamson said more funds were needed in order to compensate the system’s teachers and administrators as well as maintain class sizes.
Williamson said that at a meeting held the night before the board “combed” through its budget and without the $400,000 it would have to take out items such as professional development for its staff, teacher recruitment and the ability to reimburse teachers for expenditures on coursework. Williamson also said six elementary school teachers would need to eliminated.
Though Williamson noted the potential reduction in teachers, she said positions currently open would be filled rather than letting those teachers go.
“I have saved any positions that are open at this point so we can feed people into those positions, but class sizes will start to get bigger at second, third and fourth grade,” she said. “And that’s something I know you don’t want to see happen and we don’t want to see happen.”
Despite the request being “unorthodox,” as Moran said, “this being your last day and the service you’ve done for the county I think your asking is not out of line.” Moran made a motion to approve the funding, just as he did before the county’s budget was approved in May, to add the $400,000 to the school system’s budget.
For Commission President Mark Anderson, who praised the success of Williamson referencing recent graduation numbers and scholarship dollars students received, “we have given money beyond ... maintenance of effort, we’ve requested information we haven’t gotten. As much as I would love to do this, I can’t.”
Commissioner Steve Wilson, who also voted against the action, said if the money is approved, the amount of money the county has to give the board of education due to maintenance of effort would be increased.
“If we move [maintenance of effort] up, it may make it impossible next year to give a step,” Wilson said. “...If we don’t do it this year it makes next year more plausible.”
Wilson, who said the board of education “couldn’t be more deserving” of increased funding, said he didn’t like the idea of a budget decision being made on “affection or psychological consideration,” given it was Williamson’s last day before the commission.
“What you may be doing is to take today what you’re robbing from the future,” he said.
The board of education’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget is now $54,187,292, which is $1,460,708 above the statemandated maintenance of effort.
Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.
The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners honored the work Superintendent Dr. Carol Williamson during the Tuesday, June 14, meeting with a proclamation, flowers and the approval of an additional $400,000 to the school system’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. From left: County Commissioners Steve Wilson, Jim Moran, Williamson, Commissioners Robert Buckey, Jack Wilson and Mark Anderson.