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Interim Superintendent Presents Proposed Operating Budget For 2018–2019 Academic Year

January 9th, 2018

Interim Superintendent Michael J. Martirano presented his proposed budget for the Howard County Public School System fiscal year 2018–2019 (FY 2019) during a special presentation to the Board of Education on Tuesday, January 9.

The FY 2019 budget proposal totals $850.7 million and represents an increase of $31.6 million, or 3.9 percent, over the FY 2018 budget. Of the total, $594.5 million is requested from the County, which represents a $10.2 million increase for Maintenance of Effort (MOE) and $11.4 million for one-time costs, including the first phase of a four-year plan to address a structural imbalance and deficit in the employee Health Fund.

“The budget proposal serves as a roadmap for educating, nurturing and providing the best start in life for our more than 57,000 children, and for taking care of the staff members who are entrusted with our students’ care,” said Martirano. “It expands educational opportunity and equity, and takes a collaborative approach to establishing realistic funding levels and addressing structural budget issues that have gone unaddressed for several years.”

He noted that the structural imbalance with the Health Fund as the school system’s biggest challenge. “If it weren’t for this deficit, developing the budget would not have been as challenging,” he stated.

The Howard County Public School System has been operating with a structural imbalance that has strained the overall financial footing since 2011. Martirano cited expanded programs, salary increases and the lack of comprehensive planning to develop a sustainable budget plan as contributing factors to the $22.2 million negative balance, which will grow this fiscal year by another $28.3 million. “We must take ownership of the situation and reset our course to one that is fiscally responsible yet still advances programmatic priorities to make HCPSS a premier school system.”

The proposed budget reflects a careful and incremental approach that puts in place a four-year plan to address the Health Fund structural imbalance and deficit, as well as four-year plans to address the shortage of nurses and the need for social workers and other student supports. Funding is also included for innovative new learning options, including the JumpStart dual enrollment initiative, career academies for Agriculture and HVAC, and a pilot middle school athletic program. It includes resources and services that are essential to achievement and well-being, such as daily access to nutritious food, social services and a high quality preschool program that is especially valuable in promoting school readiness for children who face poverty, language barriers and other challenges. It also provides for highly skilled staff and specialized services for students with developmental or intellectual disabilities, in alignment with the school system’s new special education strategic plan.

The budget reflects the system’s goals to align operations more closely to system priorities, direct maximum funding to schools and instruction, and maximize transparency and responsiveness. It incorporates $4.1 million in cost savings through a comprehensive reorganization and recalibration of Central Office divisions to be more responsive, effective and efficient. Highlights of the budget proposal include:

“We cannot implement new programs, introduce new initiatives, or resolve structural issues overnight,” Martirano stated. “The investments and strategies in the FY 2019 budget proposal reflect the priorities of our Board of Education and community. I look forward to our ongoing collaboration in enhancing the academic success and social-emotional well-being of every Howard County student.”

The Superintendent’s FY 2019 Budget Proposal provides greater detail than has been provided in prior budget documents, to ensure full transparency and facilitate the Board’s deliberation and consideration. The full budget document is available online as well as a summary and budget process timeline.

The Board will hold public hearings on the proposed budget at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 30 and Tuesday, February 13. Work sessions will be held on February 1, 6, 13, and 15, all scheduled to begin 1 p.m.

The Board is scheduled to adopt its budget request on February 22 at 3 p.m., and to approve the final FY 2019 Operating and Capital Budgets and FY 2020–2024 Capital Improvement Program on May 31 at 9 a.m. All hearings, work sessions and meetings will be held at the Department of Education, 10910 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City.