HCPSS Superintendent Presents 2023-2024 Operating Budget Proposal
January 24th, 2023
Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano presented his proposed operating budget for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) fiscal year 2023–2024 (FY 2024) during a presentation to the Board of Education on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. The Board will now hold a series of public hearings and work sessions before submitting the Board’s Requested Budget to the County Executive by the beginning of March 2023.
The FY 2024 budget proposal totals $1.14 billion, representing an expenditure increase of $108.5 million, or 10.5%. If advanced by the Board of Education, the request to the County for funding of $785.2 million represents a $109.6 million increase in recurring funds, or a 16.2% increase over FY 2023. State funding totals $348.4 million, an increase of $27.3 million, or 8.5%.
Funding for compensation increases accounts for approximately 44 percent of the growth. The remaining growth is driven by the Blueprint for Maryland’s future legislation and other mandates, the opening of High School #13, staffing for special education and funding for staff and resources critical to our school system’s operations. Major budget priorities fall into six focus areas:
- Employee Compensation
- Strategically Investing in Student Achievement
- Crucial Needs for School System Management and Operations
- Financial Obligations and Commitments
- Opening High School #13
- Enrollment Commitments
This is the first budget since Martirano became Superintendent that no longer carries a deficit in the Health and Dental Fund, and now reports a positive fund balance. Further, the budget proposal eliminates a dependency on fund balance and folds in expiring grant funding so those critical programs can continue.
The FY 2024 Proposed Operating Budget is driven by the Strategic Call to Action (SCTA), titled “Every Student Achieving,” ensuring that organizational processes are transparent, effective and fiscally responsible and resources are equitably allocated to support the success of all students and staff. The budget integrates the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future into school system operations as HCPSS acknowledges that the Blueprint is not a standalone requirement but an exciting opportunity to transform public education.
The FY 2024 budget adds 326.6 new positions, an increase of about 3.5 percent from the current budget. Over 90 percent of the new positions will support student achievement, opening High School #13, and enrollment changes. Major highlights include:
Investment in Staff
- $47,923,645 for employee compensation increases to retain, recruit and grow highly skilled and experienced staff and meet the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future requirements
- $1.5 million in substitute wage increase
- $524,991 to provide Chromebooks for Paraeducators
The budget builds on HCPSS’ commitment to funding special education services and supports. Since 2019, HCPSS has added 494.2 positions to support increased needs in special education:
- $11.98 million and 105.6 new positions
This chart shows funding for special education has increased over $54 million since FY20, averaging over 9.8% growth each year during that span.
Funding for Special Education
Student Transportation and Start Time Adjustments
The Office of Student Transportation requires staffing and resources to account for the ongoing driver shortage and anticipated adjustments to school start times, which will not be possible without completely filling all projected transportation routes:
- $7,332,430 for anticipated contractual costs changes for student transportation, including $250,000 for implementation of a new rider management system
- 3.0 positions needed to implement school start time changes
Pre-K and Early Childhood Education Services
- $3,237,177 and 59.1 positions for the expansion of Pre-K and Early Childhood Education Services.
High School #13 Opening and Operations
- $2,154,386 which includes 42.6 positions:
- 5.5 positions for school administration
- 17.1 positions for instruction and instructional support
- 16.0 positions for special education services
- 2.0 positions for student health supports
- 2.0 positions for grounds maintenance
College and Career Readiness
- $3,116,695 to increase state-mandated funding for tuition, transportation, and textbooks to support the Blueprint College and Career Readiness
Reading and Math Instructional Supports for Students
A student must learn to read at an early age so they may be able to read to learn for the rest of their lives. This is a critical part of their early journey as a student and impacts their ability to achieve academically. Reading and math supports for students include:
- $1.1 million and 15.2 new positions support staffing, screening, interventions, and professional development
- $1,586,281 and 20.5 positions including 3.0 elementary math coaches and 3.0 elementary literacy coaches, 10.0 math specialists to meet Career and College Ready Blueprint Requirements
Student Well-Being, Health Services, and Safety
- $1,213,748 and 10.0 positions to support student behavioral needs
- $743,637 and 4.0 positions to support student health needs
- $806,088 and 8.0 positions for school safety and security positions, including security assistants
HCPSS has continued to invest in student support personnel over the past four years. The current ratio of Counselors, Psychologists, Pupil Personnel Workers, Social Workers and Nurses to students is well below recommended levels which puts a significant strain on the staff providing these services. The FY24 budget proposal will result in there being a nurse in every school building, but a gap of 12 health assistant positions to have both a nurse and health assistant in every school will remain.
The following chart shows increases in the number of budgeted full-time employees for several student support positions and the ratios in relation to targets.
Student Support Personnel Ratios
|Budgeted FTEs (does not include grants)|
|Position||FY19||FY23||Proposed FY24||Ideal Ratio||Current FY23 Ratio||Proposed FY24 Ratio|
|Counselor||158.5||177.5||189.5||1:250||ES – 1:462
MS – 1:253HS-1:273
|ES – 1:462
MS – 1:253HS-1:257
|Pupil Personnel Worker||22.0||26.0||27.0||1:2,000||1:2,218||1:2,218|
|Social Worker||3.0||11.5||22.5||1:250||1:per MS||1:per MS|
|Nurse||70.0||77.0||83.0||1:500-700 – Generally
1:250 – Students w/ Medical Needs
|1:per school (additional Health Assistants at some sites)||1:per school (additional Health Assistants at some sites)|
- $618,937 and 13.0 positions included for certified athletic trainers at each high school to replace contracted trainers and ensure adequate staffing for athletic events, including to ensure trained staff is available in the event of athletic emergencies
School System Management
- $547,455 and 6.0 positions to assist with recruitment, including one facilitator under Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to better equip HCPSS to address the DEI needs of its schools
- $543,849 and 8.0 positions to staff and manage the offices of Budget and Accounting in order to strengthen fiscal management, reporting and oversight, responding to recent audit and risk management findings
The Board will hold public hearings on the Superintendent’s FY 2024 budget proposal at 7 p.m. on Jan. 26 and Feb. 6. Work sessions will be held on Feb. 1, 2, 8 and 14, all beginning at 1 p.m. and Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. A complete budget schedule can be found online.
Martirano stressed the iterative nature of the budget process, and that it will require continued collaboration between the school system, Board of Education, County Government and the Maryland General Assembly to accomplish the goals and objectives articulated through this budget.
The Board is scheduled to adopt its budget request on Feb. 16, at 4 p.m. and approve the final FY 2024 Operating and Capital Budgets and FY 2025–2029 Capital Improvement Program on May 25.
The Superintendents budget proposal is available online.