School Superintendent Says Proposed Budget 'By No Means Represents What We Really Need'

The proposed FY14 school budget includes an additional $1.7 million from county government.

At Wednesday's regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting, School Superintendent Stephen Guthrie presented his proposed FY14 budget, which includes cutting 20.5 custodial positions and asking the county commissioners for a one percent funding increase.

Guthrie said that the costs for state and federal mandates coupled with inflation make it difficult to balance the budget when revenues are not also increasing.

"This is not what I think we need," Guthrie said. "This is what we are lacking ... these are the mandates that we are not addressing."

The proposed budget includes $2.6 million in spending reductions.

Guthrie's proposed FY14 operating budget totals $330,214,129. According to Guthrie, inflationary expenses that include employee benefits, bus contracts and insurances cost the school system more than $2 million. He said that Carroll County will also have to fund mandated state and federal requirements at a cost of more than $2.3 million.

According to CCPS Chief Financial Officer Chris Hartlove, the proposed budget includes a one percent increase in county funding over last year - $1.7 million.

If county government funds the school system at Maintenance of Effort (MOE), that will translate to a $4 million reduction in funding due to declining enrollment numbers, Guthrie said.

"This [proposed FY14 budget] by no means represents what we really need in our system," Guthrie said. "This represents additional requirements that we have basically ignored over the past couple years."

Hargrove emphasized that this is a proposed budget and that it is still unclear how much education funding Carroll County will receive from the state.

According to the presentation, the state funding formula is based on three main factors: student enrollment (Carroll is down 468 students), a county's relative wealth (determined by the state), and inflation (which state government capped at one percent through FY15).

Following the presentation, Board of Education member Barbara Shreeve said, "Our leadership here in the county is sitting on a surplus of money ... I guess the state expects them to tap into it."

"I don’t want them to raise taxes, but when the state looks at us and we have relative wealth here and the commissioners are cutting taxes and sitting on a surplus of money ... I don’t understand it," Shreeve said.

Board member Jim Doolan said that county leadership is going to have to accept that money has to be spent on education.

"This board [of Education] doesn’t have funding authority, we have to go to county government to say 'it’s up to you to provide quality education to our kids and citizens'," Doolan said.

"With two tax cuts and a proposed third one, the county has reduced its own revenue sources at a time when needs are going up," Doolan said. "I urge them to accept the fact that we have an excellent school system and the only way it’s going to stay and not affect kids is that the money has to at least meet the needs."

Following the budget presentation, Commissioner Doug Howard said that "we don't have another big pocket to say that we can offset this with something else."

"More demands from the state and less money from the state is the problem--the problem is in Annapolis," Howard said. "That’s where a lot of this discussion needs to be happening."

Look at Guthrie's proposed budget in this Powerpoint presentation on the CCPS website.

Public hearings are scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Board of Education offices and Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. at South Carroll High School. The Board of Education will adopt a preliminary budget on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at its 1 p.m. meeting and the Board of Education's final operating budget will be approved in May.

Joe Smith January 12, 2013 at 03:57 AM
>JoAnn, I wasn't wanting to wade into the topic of vouchers. But, since you're asking, I think that they would be possibly the best thing to happen to the public education system. I agree entirely with your contention that competition would improve things, incredibly. The biggest issue I have is that it will take time to implement such an arrangement. Whereas, streamlining the budget and cutting out excesses are things that can be done immediately - if only the administrators worked towards that goal, and no their own selfish needs, whims, and desires.
Cindy January 12, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Thank you JoAnn. I too have many concerns with Common Core. I would much rather see more local control and input into our curriculum. However, that's a discussion for another day. My concern with taking away funding from our current system will leave us weakened. I don't think CCPS should be given a blank check. I would just like to see that we are able to stay at a level of funding that will not take anything else away from our students.


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