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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:

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

Special Education

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:

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

  Budgeted Proposed
  FY20 FY21 FY22 FY23 FY24
Budget $120.3m $132.3m $140.0mm 156.0m $174.4mm
Annual Growth 10.2% 9.9% 5.9% 11.4% 11.8%

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:

Pre-K and Early Childhood Education Services

High School #13 Opening and Operations

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:

Student Well-Being, Health Services, and Safety

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

Note: The Current FY23 Ratios consider the actual staffing and include grant-funded positions.

  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 – 1:253
ES – 1:462
MS – 1:253
Psychologist 68.4 83.2 85.8 1:500-700 1:769 1:746
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)


School System Management

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.