The Board of Education this morning approved a $1.6 billion the Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget that begins to address funding and programmatic issues related to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, adds positions to address class sizes, and proposes significant compensation increases for all employees and for contracted bus drivers and aides.
In approving the operating budget request to send to County Executive Steuart Pittman, the Board approved four amendments and added $1.7 million to the recommendation put forward by Superintendent George Arlotto in December. Those amendments:
- Cut $645,300 by reducing the number of proposed additional school buses from 32 to 23.
- Add $120,100 to create a Board of Education Constituent Services position.
- Add $1.9 million to complete the requirements for fulfilling HB205 (free menstrual products in public schools) by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
- Add $354,900 to enhance a teen parenting and education program in the western portion of Anne Arundel County.
The request contains $23.8 million in shifts of federal and state grants to the school system’s permanent operating budget, including monies for existing special education and Virtual Academy positions, temporary teaching assistants, and long-term substitutes. Those shifts also include $4.7 million for a portion of the leases for technology equipment acquired throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and $2.1 million in contracts for enhanced preventative maintenance services for school HVAC systems.
Funding directly related to Blueprint requirements includes $2.6 million for mandated compensation increases for National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) and $3.7 million for 54.5 positions necessary to convert 17 half-day prekindergarten programs to a full day.
The request also includes $53.2 million for employee compensation enhancements, inclusive of the NBCT compensation. That is sufficient, subject to negotiations with employee bargaining units, for a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for all employees, a compensation placeholder equivalent to step movement for eligible employees, and the final phase of back steps or step equivalents for eligible employees in Unit II through Unit VI who missed those increases due to economic constraints in the Fiscal Year 2016. The recent ratification of a negotiated agreement with Unit I employees resolved the back step issue for teachers, school counselors, and similar school system staff.
To help address ongoing issues with bus driver shortages and student transportation, the Board’s request includes $3.4 million to provide approximately a 10 percent COLA for contracted bus drivers and aides.
To continue to address the social and emotional needs of students, the request also includes $4.4 million for 36 positions, including 11 assistant principals, 6.6 positions for an alternative education elementary program, seven school counselors, 4.4 school psychologists, three school social workers, and two Pupil Personnel Workers.
The Board is also asking for funding for 122 teachers to reduce class sizes; 93.6 positions in special education to address the increased complexity of student needs; 30.3 positions to address the needs of English Language Learners; 19.1 positions in the final phase of staffing for Crofton High School; and 7.5 positions to expand the elementary Triple-E program to most schools in the Old Mill cluster.
CAPITAL BUDGET REQUEST
The Board approved a pair of amendments adding four projects to the recommendation Dr. Arlotto made in December. By unanimous votes, the Board approved $3.0 million for air-conditioning of gymnasiums at the Chesapeake Bay and Northeast middle schools and $350,000 to provide bleachers at the second turf fields at Arundel and Glen Burnie high schools.
The Board’s request also includes $122.9 million in construction funding for six major school projects: Quarterfield Elementary, Hillsmere Elementary, Rippling Woods Elementary, Old Mill West High School, West County Elementary, and Old Mill Middle School South.
It also includes $5.3 million for the design of a new Center of Applied Technology – North to be built on the current Old Mill High School campus, and $10 million for classroom additions at Southgate Elementary School and Crofton Middle School.
There is also $30 million for building systems renovations and $3.9 million for athletic stadium improvements in the capital budget recommendation.
The Board’s approved budget requests will now be forwarded to County Executive Steuart Pittman. The County Executive’s proposal will be considered by the County Council before it adopts a budget that allocates funding within prescribed state categories in June. The Board retains the ability to shift funding within operating budget categories before it approves a final school system budget no later than June 30. The County Council has line-item authority in the capital budget.
More information on the Board’s operating and capital budget requests can be found at www.aacps.org/fy2023budget.