School system budget hit with reduced state funding

County commissioners and school board members listen in as Charles County Public Schools Superintendent Kimberly Hill, right center, takes the floor during a budget work session Tuesday at the county government building in La Plata.

Charles County Public Schools is asking county commissioners for more than $15 million in additional expenditures to help offset a $4.3 million decrease in state funding for its fiscal year 2021 budget. In the original budget request, the school system had been asking for an increase of $12.1 million from the county compared to this year’s budget.

Schools Superintendent Kimberly Hill said Tuesday during a budget work session in La Plata that the school system was expecting to get $6.9 million but is now expected to receive only $2.6 million.

According to a preliminary DRAFT calculations report from the Maryland State Department of Education, which included a revised budget planning model, total funding for the school system represents a 1.38% increase or $2.6 million more than current funding levels. The report also noted that CCPS “will remove the proposed reduction of $1 million in fund balance to help offset the anticipated reduction in state funding,” and that “the reliance on fund balance for FY 2021 will remain at $2.2 million.”

While Charles County experienced a 6% increase in wealth, which greatly surpassed the overall state increase of 4.95%, Guaranteed Tax Base funding — a system that provides all districts with access to a state guaranteed level of property wealth per pupil — decreased significantly, by 62.98% from $2.1 million received in FY 2020 to an estimated $791,000 for FY 2021. In addition, the amount of spending per pupil increased 1.2% from $7,244 to $7,331, according to MSDE’s report.

2020欧联杯预测“We understand that the board of education is a significant cost to the citizens of Charles County. But we think of it as an investment for the future,” said Hill, emphasizing that a majority of her proposed $411 million budget would be allocated for employee salaries and benefits. “That is something that this board has had as a priority for quite a while. We want to use this upcoming budget year as an attempt to really make some improvements to the folks who work behind the scenes, who do very important work.”

Hill’s budget request includes a $2 million increase for student transportation which would add three new buses and replace 44 others; $1.7 million to expand mental health programs for students; $1.3 million to hire 17 additional teachers to handle a projected enrollment increase of 408 full-time equivalent students; and $700,000 to fund a new comprehensive reading program called “Into Reading” that would allow CCPS to fully implement all components of reading, writing, listening and speaking for students in kindergarten through second grade.

An additional $8.8 million would be reserved for collective bargaining, including salary increases and competitive teacher salaries to help with retention efforts. The proposal also includes implementation of the state’s minimum wage increase, according to a CCPS press release.

2020欧联杯预测Even though she is pleased that the school board wants to address those areas of need, Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D) said CCPS is “still going to have a problem with finding the people to fill these positions” as school districts nationwide are experiencing the same challenge.

Commissioners’ President Reuben B. Collins II (D) voiced his concern about the CCPS budget increasing by 3.5% on average over the last five years. He said Hill’s proposed budget for FY 2021 is an increase of approximately 6.3%, which led him to ask her if “an increase of this magnitude” was “possibly associated with a decrease in funding from the state.”

2020欧联杯预测“We have to really look at where we’re able to find the revenue to actually fund these programs,” Collins said. “Seeing that number is certainly something that made me pause.”

Stewart asked county staff members to provide information on school funding requests that were made over the last five years, having argued that what was proposed may be totally different than what was actually allocated.

2020欧联杯预测Hill responded by saying “there are budgets to be balanced,” and that her and the school board’s role is to “advocate for funding for the needs of our system.” In regards to the level of county funding requested for this particular budget, Hill said “what has caused a big change” is the fact that “state funding has declined significantly.”

2020欧联杯预测“We do a conservative estimate prior to getting state dollars. We were counting on about $6.9 million from the state,” she said. “That actual [amount] has come through at about $2.6 million. So that’s a two-thirds reduction in the amount of state funding.”

“What we’ve been told is that there is an item that the state provides called Guaranteed Tax Base funding. Not every jurisdiction in the state of Maryland gets [it],” Hill continued. “Because of the increase in per pupil wealth in Charles County specifically, our Guaranteed Tax Base number from the state has declined significantly.”

Hill said “state funding is inverse to wealth” as Charles County, according to MSDE data, has had the second highest change in per pupil wealth figures.

“They’re going to provide us with $2.6 million,” said Hill, “but the reduction in Guaranteed Tax Base was down 63% [or] about $1.4 million.”

2020欧联杯预测Concerned over funding reductions inflicted by the state, Stewart said it’s “very difficult” to see how the county can move forward. Stewart asked if Hill has “ever seen a huge shift in one year.” Hill said she has not since serving her first term as superintendent in 2013.

2020欧联杯预测“This was my fear, honestly,” Commissioner Gilbert Bowling (D) said. “They’re going to have to find that money somewhere for these jurisdictions. … It’s just so coincidental that this is happening.”

School board members David Hancock, Elizabeth Brown, Michael Lukas, Virginia McGraw and Latina Wilson accompanied Hill at Tuesday’s budget work session. Hancock said the reality is that the state’s funding formula is flawed and that more funds are needed.

“In terms of this particular formula, it’s actually hurting us,” Collins said. “It’s reducing the state’s contribution to our local public schools. … A lot more of our residents are educating their children in private schools. That may be part of the dynamic, too. It’s a challenge across the board.”

Bowling said someone has to be held accountable for these financial implications, arguing that this burden will put the county in an “unfavorable spot” if it doesn’t “fill the gap.”

“The board hasn’t had a chance to discuss this yet [but we are considering what may be able to be taken] out of the fund balance in a responsible way,” said Hill. “Your business is your business. Ours is just to make sure that we have what we need, so that we don’t have to ever come back to you.”

2020欧联杯预测“We’ve got to figure this out together as a team and not try to bicker [over] how we can try and get the job done,” Commissioners’ Vice President Bobby Rucci (D) said.

Although the “issue is still not resolved,” Collins said, “it’s always a better process” when the school system and commissioners’ board work together to “begin the dialogue as early as possible.”

“Approving the budget is always a challenge,” Collins said. “At the end of the day, we recognize that it is absolutely our responsibility to fund public education. But we also recognize that the costs of government operations are steadily increasing, and we need to make a part of what we’re doing an actual assessment as to where we can reduce costs.”

Hill initially requested $12.1 million in additional funding from the county and $6.9 million from the state.

2020欧联杯预测State funding, however, will not be final until the end of the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session in April.

Updates, briefings

Tuesday’s budget work session was preceded by a series of legislative updates and briefings, one of which included the Rural Broadband Task Force’s recommendations. Those recommendations, if pursued, will form the basis of a multi-year project to bring broadband to rural homes and businesses.

• County staff members are coordinating a trip in May where local businesses will pursue opportunities with the new Sister Cities partnership with Mozambique.

2020欧联杯预测• Commissioners approved a budget calendar change that moves the public hearing for the county’s proposed FY 2021 budget to Wednesday, April 29, to allow residents more time for review and provide input.

For a livestream f the Feb. 4 meeting, visit .

2020欧联杯预测Twitter: @JClink_MdINDY