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School Superintendent Says of Budgets: 'We are at a Tipping Point in our School System'

Guthrie said the school system may again be facing drastic cuts budget in FY 2014.

Carroll County School Superintendent Stephen Guthrie recently sent a message to parents with an update on next year's budget and "possible consequences to our school system."

The Board of Education held its annual budget work session on Dec. 5.  At that meeting Guthrie expressed concern about next year's possible revenue and presented some options to address likely budget shortfalls.  In his message to parents, Guthrie wrote "there is a strong possibility that we will again have to reduce spending by millions of dollars". 

Guthrie said that county Maintenance of Effort funding (the minimum funding required by the state) and reduced state funding coupled with increasing costs to run the school system could mean $9 million in funding cuts to next year's school budget.

"Make no mistake – we are at a tipping point in our school system," Guthrie wrote to parents. "Our funding for the next few years will determine the quality of education we will be able to provide to our students next year and in the future." 

Guthrie said that the school system has absorbed $20 million in reductions over the last five years.  He said his hope is that the county will fund the school system at the same amount as this current year or increase funding.

Click here to view budget scenarios Guthrie presented at the Dec. 5 work session.

According to Guthrie, the next step in the process is the release of his proposed operating budget for next year. This budget will be released on Jan. 9, 2013 when he presents his final budget recommendations to the Board of Education.  The Board votes on its preliminary budget in February and its final budget for fiscal year 2014 in May 2013. 

Sykesville Resident December 10, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I believe this was why it was under consideration to close under capacity schools but there was such an uproar about it that they have now backed off that and schools are going to lose valuable staff. What a shame!
vmail December 10, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Funny, instances of waste in the system were laughed off by Mr Guthrie last year.
ddbs00 December 10, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Just hang on because that sweet casino money is coming. Right?
Katy13 December 10, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I looked over his proposed reductions. I hope they don't consider getting rid of teacher assistants in kindergarten. I volunteer, I have seen the class, and those assistants are truly needed. There would be no way for them to cover the mandated initiatives otherwise. They work with the students directly in small groups so they can cover more ground. What a shame. I would imagine if they were gone, children would have even more homework to take home in Kindergarten (yes, homework in kindergarten, crazy)
Sykesville Resident December 10, 2012 at 07:59 PM
I totally agree, Karen. It's too bad so many people in the county would rather continue operating schools that are at less than 50% capacity and cut positions that are necessary for our children to succeed. That's pretty much what it comes down to in the end. There were so many people upset that schools might be closed that they've done a 180 now. Can't have it all...the money has to come from somewhere but our children lose with the proposed scenario.
a concerned parent December 10, 2012 at 08:56 PM
We need to be spending more money on STEM education and career tech. Yes i said MORE. Our kids are falling behind in STEM.
BC December 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Its all about the excess capacity the school system has. Many think the county population is still growing...it is not according to the US Census. The number of the kids in the schools continues to shrink and the US birth rate is the lowest it has been since 1920. Add to that the new septic rules (many new homes in Carroll depend on having a septic system) and its hard to imagine the school system is going to start growing in numbers anytime soon.
Amy M. Gilford December 11, 2012 at 11:29 AM
The poor spending habits in Annapolis and DC have come home to roost, sadly. That's why elections matter.
Chuck Flynn December 11, 2012 at 01:02 PM
There go the best teachers! Damn shame that the CC residents let such a poor administration continue to manage the school system. I see a walk out on the horizon.
David from VoxPop December 11, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Interesting how CC aggresively promoted full-day kindergarten only to turn arid and point to it as an unfunded mandate...interesting, but perhaps a triviality in e larger scheme. To me it's priorities, and we obviously don't prioritize things like education and healthcare in this nation as much as we do wars, prisons, and fellating the upper classes. What a disgusting situation all around. Home schooling for my kids. I cannot have them "educated" in ever shrinking, ever myopic public system.
Buck Harmon December 11, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Shoemaker was a big promoter of the creation of excessive school space...not a lot of forethought I guess. Now as a Commissioner one can only wonder if current decisions made by him aren't similarly tainted... Agree with David as well..
Jeff December 11, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Just a thought. I know our taxes have not been raised in a while, but maybe it’s time we do so. I know people don’t ever want to hear that, but there doesn’t seem to be any real acceptable solutions presented to the Carroll County citizens. We are one of the wealthiest counties in the country. There is no reason in the world why Carroll County citizens would allow our schools to fail. Whatever tax cut (.10) we were given in the past, as far as I'm concerned, they can have it back. Carroll County’s excellent school system is the one of the major reason why most of us moved to this here. Get back to the table and figure out whatever budget cuts we can make elsewhere, but don't shortchange our school system. Are children are the ones who will suffer in the end. Let’s just do the right thing! Fund our schools so we can continue to excel. We can’t afford to go backwards.
Katy13 December 11, 2012 at 02:45 PM
The state (MD) mandates that school districts offer full day kindergarten. This is not something CC has a choice in. It maybe unfunded, I don't know, but it's not an option to not provide it. We are only 7 (I think?) states in the country that mandate that school districts must provide full day kindergarten. So while there are a lot of problems with the cost reductions, that is not something that CC could control (unless school districts can have a waiver? I doubt it though)
JoeEldersburg December 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Backwards is the only direction this Bored of Commissioners knows...tax cuts solve everything when you are a Tea Party nut and think that government is the enemy. The problems are exacerbated by excess capacity, namely building MVHS when we shouldn't have, but it's not the only issue here. If Carroll keeps funding levels the same, we will continue to slide backwards, as we are already not keeping pace with STEM or G&T or accelerated learning programs. Our funding on technology and the arts is abysmal, our fields (park & rec included) conditions are an atrocious joke. Without the heavy lifting of volunteers and concerned parents we would be nowhere, but we are past the breaking point and cannot absorb more cuts. Wake up, our government is failing us and it comes from the top. We need to stop electing political hacks and start electing people with a track record of public service...things can only get better. This is the worst BOC I've seen and I experienced Dell & Frazier, so that's really saying something!
WestMonster December 11, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Wow, some of those proposed cuts would really suck for the kids! Outdoor school is a great experience, but is extra. I agree, cutting the K aides would be disastrous for that program. Since almost all of these solutions result in job losses, are we certain there are no efficiency improvements to be implemented? I know the transportation system was leaned-down, but what about school maintenance, vehicle fleet, facility operation costs (electricity, waste, HVAC...)? Also, couldn't help but notice it costs almost $3mil to run MVHS, and the projected shortfall under the MOE scenario is $3mil. Shut down NCHS and move everyone to the Manchester Valley debacle. Maybe NCHS can be re-purposed, maybe not... but high schools are huge, and running 2 of them right next to each other at around 50% is nuts.
LC December 11, 2012 at 04:05 PM
There are far, far TOO many mid level "supervisors" in the system. Getting rid of some of them would save an incredible amount of money for the school system. Their salaries are public information. Like many corporations, CCPS is still too top heavy. If jobs were easier to come by in this area, I do think you would see a walk out. Many teachers in CCPS are stressed to the breaking point - because they are the ones most impacted by the $20 million in cuts over the past 5 years.
BC December 11, 2012 at 08:01 PM
For David...If you look back at full day k, Carroll County asked to be exempted from it but the state mandated it. Additions were added to most elementary schools for this. Many things are mandated by the state and federal government....look at the mandates for Race to the Top (an Obama program) an how little money is coming into support it. Places to look for savings are in the mandates and the excessive school capacity. In addition, look at the high schools ...each as a Principal and 2 or more assistant principals. Could probably save a million a year by eliminating one of the assistants. The thing to remember is that our schools will start going down hill as teachers have had no raises for years. It will be hard to compete with other school districts when we have the lowest starting pay. As teachers start leaving for other districtsfor better pay and are replaced with second tier teachers it will not be good for the future of the system. Mr Guthrie and the BOE need to open their eyes.
Sue Keller December 11, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Like every other corporation, there are too many bureaucrats in CCPS. Good luck getting their jobs cut, though....if they haven't cut them by now, it seems extremely unlikely.
Sue Keller December 11, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Special education has already been cut to the bone, so stop looking there to suck blood out of that department. Nice short-term thinking, CCPS. Kids who really need help are not getting what they need now to be independent and able to work in the future. But that won't be your problem....that's a long-term issue. No, you all can rest easy when these kids turn 18 or 21, CCPS. You might care as a private taxpayer when all these kids are on SSI or SNAP benefits. Why the Developmental Disabilities Administration hasn't stepped in on behalf of their future clients, only they know....

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