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HCPSS Budget Savings Cover Continuity of Learning Costs While Reducing Health Fund Deficit

April 20th, 2020

The Howard County Board of Education has approved a year-end categorical budget transfer of $3.25 million. $1.8 million of these funds will be combined with a budget savings of $4.5 million, allowing the school system to manage the unplanned technology costs for continuity of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, HCPSS will be able to fulfill its commitment to apply annual budget savings to reduce the accumulated Health Fund deficit.

Maryland schools have been closed since March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and HCPSS has deployed devices to continue student learning at home during the closure. Current projections indicate that the school system has sufficient budget savings during the 2019-2020 school year (FY 2020), generated by hiring and spending freezes and other cost containment. These savings will be redirected to cover unplanned pandemic costs without tapping fund reserves. Most significantly, these savings will pay for the additional technology acquired to ensure that all of the system’s nearly 59,000 students can participate in continuity of learning during this crisis.

In addition, HCPSS’ sound fiscal management will ensure that the health fund deficit elimination plan will not be fully stalled by the fiscal strains the pandemic has placed on the school system and the County. HCPSS and the County have agreed to a partial delay in the funding the County will provide as part of the health fund deficit elimination plan negotiated earlier this year. With the budget savings generated, HCPSS fully plans to move forward with its commitments to apply $7.2 million in unassigned fund balance and $2.5 million in savings to make the largest reduction ever in the health fund deficit.

HCPSS will also seek all eligible sources of federal and state relief funding to offset COVID-19 related expenses.

The school system submitted the categorical transfer request to the County Council on April 17, 2020, to allow Council action at the June 1, 2020, legislative session.

Details are provided in the April 16, 2020, Board report and presentation, which are provided online.