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Commissioner Howard Not Optimistic About Funding Adopted Education Budget

The Board of Education will be asking the county commissioners for a one percent funding increase over last year.

The Carroll County Board of Education adopted the Superintendent's proposed budget Wednesday, much to the chagrin of Commissioner Doug Howard, who said the county just doesn't have the money to fund at the requested level.

The school board will be asking the county commissioners to increase funding of Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS) by $1.7 million, or one percent above last year's funding level. The board of education will ask the commissioners for total funding of $166.6 million.

CCPS Superintendent Stephen Guthrie explained that the the school system has made $20 million in reductions in the past five years and cut 155 positions system-wide.

The FY14 budget again includes reductions--20 custodial staff positions and four central office staff positions. Additionally, Guthrie explained that the school system has to absorb $2,061,303 in inflationary increases that include employee benefits, bus contractor costs and insurances.

CCPS Chief Financial Officer Chris Hartlove said that there are still unknowns in the budget, including how much funding will come from the state and county.

Commissioner Howard said that he doesn't foresee the county funding education above $164 million. Last year the commissioners forecast funding education at $164 million in FY14.

"There has never been any serious position that's been taken by any of us [commissioners] that there's more than $164 million there," Howard said. "There is nothing to suggest that things are fundamentally better than that."

"My concern obviously is that $164 million still seems to be the high number we're talking about; other numbers we are discussing are $3 million below that," Howard said.

Board of Education member Gary Bauer said he "doesn't buy it"—he believes the county does have money to spend on education.

"You have more than $164 million," Bauer said in response to Howard. "Raise the taxes. This county is very wealthy; it's time they pay for what they want," Bauer said.

"The state has just reduced [our funding], saying we're wealthier than before," Bauer continued. "I'm tired of hearing we don't have money. We have the money."

Board of Education member Virginia Harrison agreed saying, "We're beginning to lose good teachers who are going to other counties that pay more.

"That one percent [property] tax cut last year ... it would be fine with me if [the county] kept it and gave it to the school system," Harrison said.

Upcoming Education Forums

  • The Board of Carroll County Commissioners will host an education forum on Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. at Carroll Community College
  • A forum with Superintendent Guthrie at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 7 at Century High School
  • A forum with Superintendent Guthrie at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 18 at North Carroll High School
  • A forum with Superintendent Guthrie at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3 at Westminster High School (rescheduled from March 4)

On March 5, the commissioners will hold an evening open session meeting at 7 p.m. at the County Office Building to discuss a tax rate reduction, education funding and employee salaries.

See Also:

  • School Superintendent Says Proposed Budget 'By No Means Represents What We Really Need'
  • School Superintendent Says of Budgets: 'We are at a Tipping Point in our School System'
  • Board of Ed Moves Forward with Facilities Study
Amy McKenna Gilford February 28, 2013 at 11:47 AM
No, we don't need any more new taxes. It's already extremely difficult to keep up with the state and federal money grabbers. Maybe it's time to push back on these unfunded state and federal mandates.
BC February 28, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Given that the county population is actually shrinking or at best staying even (check out the census data) the school system really needs to look a facilities. Manchester Valley and North Carroll High schools are both half empty and given that the population is not growing there is little hope that those schools will grow. Close one of them and save millions of dollars a year! For some reason the BOE thinks the population is going to suddenly start growing like mad. The birth rate in the US is at historic lows and the new state mandated septic system requirements will make it too expensive for people to build in Carroll so its hard to beleive the school system is suddenly going to be growing again. The BOE needs to take ownership of the poor decision to build Manchester Valley. It was totally funded by the county as the state said it was not needed. (First time any county in Maryland did such a thing in decades) We are paying for it big time now.
CS February 28, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Fixed costs have gone through the roof in the last few years so the lack of funding can't entirely be place on poor budgeting. That certainly is a part of it, but as BC stated, having schools that are nowhere near capacity and will be nowhere near capacity in the foreseeable future is a ridiculous waste of money. The BOE does indeed need to accept responsibility for a very poor decision and decide how to reverse it. Sure, high school students may have a longer commute, but is that any different than it was before a high school that was not needed was built? Stop talking about cutting programs and teachers that the school system desperately needs and wants and hire an accountant who knows what they are doing to run CCPS like it should be run...a business.
JoeEldersburg February 28, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Let's remember that the ill-advised decision to build MVHS was in part a negative reaction to the busing of students from Manchester to Hampstead, which was indeed a chore prior to the opening of the $90 million Hampstead Bypass. This situation has been resolved and now the trip is a quick jaunt by comparison. Logically, since the students re-districted from N. Carroll to MVHS represent the excess capacity at both schools, it makes better sense to contemplate closing N. Carroll and moving all the kids into the newer MVHS, than it does redistricting the entire county. Perhaps we could sell N. Carroll to one of the Commissioners developer friends for a tidy profit. Enrollments in the northern part of the county are predicted to continue to decline over the next few years and history shows there should be little confidence in predictions out more than 5 years. Should these Commissioners continue to flat fund education, more people will move out, not in, so the enrollment reductions may actually accelerate, as our schools continue to drop along with our property values. People like Ms. Nicholls would rather not acknowledge public schools as an investment in our quality of life or that education costs have increased irrespective of enrollments, but that's what we're dealing with. A college education is more expensive too, but do you not attend college, because they are not good stewards of the tuition dollars?
Cindy February 28, 2013 at 03:40 PM
I'm not even sure where those $286M and $331M figures come from. It must be operating and capital combined. And never mind that new schools have been built in that time. And employee benefits laws have changed. And the teacher pension passback has occurred. It's really comparing apples and oranges. If we look only at operating budget, it's a more reasonable picture. In 2009, the budget was $160.7m. In 2013, it was $164.9m. Up about 2.5% over 4 years. Hardly sucking up all the money! What has the county operating budget done in that same period? It's gone from $353m to $361.7m. Up about 2.5%. So education's "share" of the budget has remained at 45.5%.
newsjunkie February 28, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Don't listen to Rothschild & Frazier's deranged minions. If you want information on why costs have gone up every year, go to the Board of Education's website : http://www.carrollk12.org/Assets/file/Financial%20Services/Fixed%20Cost%20Increases.pdf This information has been explained to all of the commissioners over and over yet SOME of the commissioners say they don't understand. These are fixed costs that apply whether there are 28,000 or 26,000 students. The costs have increased in almost all categories; liability insurance, heating oil, gasoline, electricity, water, sewer, textbooks, teaching materials and supplies that keep the schools running like paper and copying, the list goes on and on. These must be provided. The Board of Eduction can't opt to only run buses 4 days or week, not light the buildings, turn the heat off in some of the schools, stop making copies or drop liability insurance. It's amazing that we are still having this argument. There are none so blind as those that will not see!
Kathy Doyle Boone March 01, 2013 at 01:47 AM
The BOE is not going to close a school, why because they have the good old boys system! They don’t want to put any of the higher paid employees out of work or give them a extra work load. They will move them from one job title to another to make it look like they made cuts. AND THE NEW TITLE pays more ! But if you look on the web and a school calendar from past years they still employ the same number of staff at central office as they did in 2007. “ What they did was cut custodial jobs, over the past 2 years 30 positions have been cut or not filled and used that money for high class job titles .. They have now told the custodians they have to maintain and clean a school even with one evening custodian! So the health standards of disinfecting after little Johnny had rubbed his germs all over the building is now cut in half.
Kathy Doyle Boone March 01, 2013 at 01:59 AM
The lighting in the buildings, the heat in the schools is in the plant operations budget if you look and they have cut the timmer / clocks heat does not come on now till 8am it used to come on at 6:30 . where is that saved money ?
Kathy Doyle Boone March 01, 2013 at 02:01 AM
I do agree , close a school .. stop sinking money in to these old falling apart buildings !
Andrea White March 03, 2013 at 12:44 PM
I suggest that those of you who have not yet attended one of Steve Guthrie's presentations this year go listen to him before making uninformed comments. There is a clear case for why he is asking for this amount of money, and in addition, he has a plan for what to do if he receives only $164 mill or even less. You will find that each situation requires juggling, even the amount he is asking for.
Andrea White March 03, 2013 at 04:02 PM
JoAnn, if you are speaking to me, like I said, attend Mr. Guthrie's presentation. It is clear that you have not, or if you have, you were not listening. That is all I am going to say.
I. DeFeo March 04, 2013 at 02:34 PM
I agree with Andrea White - attend one of those meetings and listen to Steve Guthrie. Study the budgets (proposed & past years) line item by line item. MOE doesn't take inflation into account. It was designed for counties whose populations were rapidly growing. We all aware of cost increases of fuel, utitlities, health care, supplies - all the increases we have suffered, so has every entity in the county - including schools. Look at the county's budget and projected income too.
Kym Byrnes (Editor) March 04, 2013 at 03:48 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight on this issue. Patch was built for the purpose of providing a platform for these community conversations to take place. That said, there are terms of use and any comments that are inappropriate will be deleted. Please avoid making personal attacks on other users/commenters and stick to the article topic. These comments should be educational/informational so that others coming to the topic for the first time can actually get a deeper understanding of the issue at hand its impact on the community. Thank you!
faretheewell March 04, 2013 at 09:18 PM
There are always simple solutions to complex issues, that are typically wrong. For those who claim that the solution is to just one or more schools, I have to ask: which, what will be done with the closed school, what is the cost implications both in the long and short term, what will the impact be on transportation and most importantly, what will the impact be on the kids? It is extremely easy to pull an answer out of the air. I would hope that our elected officials would embrace a more rigorous methodology of analysis. However, given the sweeping suggestions I’ve heard from some, I’m not confident that this is the case.

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