School bud­get re­quest tops last year’s by $5.3 mil­lion

The Kent Island Bay Times - - Bay Views - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools are seek­ing $59,442,983 from the county for fis­cal 2019, the lo­cal por­tion of a pro­posed $101,653,299 bud­get for the next school year.

That re­quest is up $5.3 mil­lion from last year and $3.94 mil­lion over main­te­nance of ef­fort, a state law that re­quires lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions to spend at least as much money per stu­dent as they did the pre­vi­ous year.

Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Dr. An­drea Kane pre­sented her pro­posed bud­get to the school board Wed­nes­day, March 7. The school board ap­proved the pro­posed bud­get dur­ing a work ses­sion March 16.

Kane out­lined new po­si­tions she hoped to add: an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at Kent Is­land High, one class­room teacher at Kent Is­land Ele­men­tary and one at Centreville Mid­dle, two new teach­ing po­si­tions at Queen Anne’s County High, a driver trainer in the trans­porta­tion depart­ment, and an elec­tri­cian and car­pen­ter.

Main­te­nance of ef­fort does not ad­dress in­fla­tion, ris­ing costs, new pro­grams or ini­tia­tives, Kane said. This fig­ure only in­creases with in­creased en­roll­ment, and should not be con­sid­ered a ceil­ing for fund­ing, rather a min­i­mum/base fund­ing re­quire­ment, she added.

The cost of ed­u­cat­ing a stu­dent in Queen Anne’s is nearly $2,000 less per stu­dent than the state av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“If we were to re­ceive only MOE from the county our bud­get would need to be re­duced $3,947,722,” said Kane, which would elim­i­nate any new po­si­tions and leave $3.2 more mil­lion to cut.

“At an av­er­age cost of $85,000 per teacher, 38 ad­di­tional po­si­tions would need to be cut to bal­ance the bud­get,” said Kane. “There is no pos­si­ble way we can find $3.2 mil­lion to bal­ance our bud­get without cut­ting po­si­tions that liv­ing, breath­ing, mort­gage-pay­ing peo­ple sit in to­day.”

This year the bulk of the bud­get is at­trib­uted to in­struc­tion, fall­ing just be­low $39 mil­lion. The next high­est ex­pense cat­e­gory is em­ployee ben­e­fits, $20.2 mil­lion, and spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion is al­lot­ted the next high­est at $8.35 mil­lion, with trans­porta­tion at $6.7 mil­lion and op­er­a­tions com­ing in at $6.24 mil­lion. Ad­min­is­tra­tion rounds out the bud­get at $1.98 mil­lion, just 2 per­cent of the to­tal op­er­a­tions bud­get, Kane said, re­spond­ing to con­cerns about a bloated cen­tral of­fice staff.

In re­view­ing con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions, Kane said the school sys­tem would be look­ing at step in­creases and cost of liv­ing in­creases, among oth­ers. As of the March 7 meet­ing, the ad­min­is­tra­tion was still in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Kane said, “We have got to do a bet­ter job of pay­ing our em­ploy­ees ... it is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­quest [those funds],” adding, “we will be trans­par­ent [about the bud­get].”

If the bud­get would need to be trimmed due to lack of fund­ing, Kane out­lined sev­eral pos­si­ble cost sav­ing mea­sures, in­clud­ing: staffing re­views at all schools; Health Care Cov­er­age – EPO In­di­vid­u­als – 90/10 premium shar­ing; Pay to Play for sports pro­grams; not fund­ing a step; not fund­ing a COLA; de­layed im­ple­men­ta­tion of salary im­prove­ments; fur­lough day; and ad­mis­sion fees for stu­dents at­tend­ing ath­letic events.

“Are we re­quest­ing growth or sta­tus quo?” Kane asked. “[In the county] we see a new court­house, growth, dis­cus­sions for a new li­brar y, but what we are of­fer­ing our stu­dents is not re­flec­tive of that growth.”

The county ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pro­posed fis­cal 2019 bud­get, in­tro­duced March 13, to­tals $138.1 mil­lion. In it, the board of ed­u­ca­tion is pro­posed to be funded at main­te­nance of ef­fort, which would be an in­crease of $1.4 mil­lion from this year. The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion is listed at $56,884,381.

County bud­get work ses­sions have been sched­uled in March and April with pub­lic hear­ings to be held on April 23, 24 and 25 on Kent Is­land, Centreville and in north county, re­spec­tively. The fi­nal county bud­get is sched­uled for adop­tion on May 22.

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