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Board of Education Adopts FY24 Operating & Capital Budgets

May 26th, 2023

On Thursday, May 25, 2023, the Howard County Board of Education adopted its Operating and Capital Budgets for the 2023–2024 school year (FY 2024). The General Fund Operating Budget totals $1.1 billion, an increase of $72.1 million over FY 2023 which represents a 7.0 percent budgeted increase. The FY 2024 Capital Budget totals $109.1 million to support capital projects, including costs associated with the completion of Guilford Park High School; Oakland Mills Middle School and Dunloggin Middle School projects; renovations to the Faulkner Ridge Center; partial renovation to the Applications and Research Laboratory facility; systemic renovations including three HVAC replacements; and ongoing projects such as planning and design to address system needs.

The Board adopted the FY 2024 budget after extensive deliberations to reduce its requested budget by more than $67 million. The Board considered multiple budget balancing scenarios as it refined funding priorities to make sure that the two most important goals were achieved: increasing HCPSS compensation so it continues to attract and retain the best teaching talent in the state; and increasing funding for student instructional services and supports to continue advancing students on a path toward academic and life achievement. Backed by the mandates and vision of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the largest investment in the budget is $47 million dollars for employee compensation, which represents 66 percent of the $72.1 million increase.

The budget also provides for a $27.9 million increase in funding for priority instructional areas such as Special Education, College and Career Readiness and Career and Technical Education, reading, mathematics, and student supports, as well as opening Guilford Park High School. Affording these increases required the Board to reprioritize the existing budget and reduce it by $2.8 million. Some reductions include shrinking pooled positions (used to meet unexpected shifts in enrollment and student needs) by 19.0 and reducing various equipment and supplies budgets by almost $700,000. A total of 75 net new positions are included in the FY 2024 Operating Budget.

“As expectations of educators and school systems increase each year, it is incumbent upon our County and State communities to commit to the funding and supports needed for schools to fulfill these understandably high expectations,” said Board Chair Antonia Watts. “I am appreciative of the increased funding we received this year and know it is being dedicated to the top priorities of the Board, staff and families to have the greatest impact on students with the greatest needs. I want to thank the Superintendent, HCPSS staff, the County Council and the County Executive for working collaboratively with the Board to advance this budget and invest in our children.”

“This budget advances many critical needs of our system and allows us to advance the priorities that are mandated by the State and those that will have the greatest impact on students,” said HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano. “This budget invests in our staff who take care of our children and in enhancements to the programs and services that will ensure our students are achieving academically and that we are adequately tending to their wellness. I am proud of the collaborative work between Board of Education members, staff, the County Council, and County Executive to make a commitment to the children and families in Howard County and adequately fund the high expectations we have for serving our students.”

Sources of Funding and Priority Expenditures

Howard County recurring funding is increasing $47.0 million to $720.3 million, a 7.0 percent increase. County funding also provides $887,000 for one-time expenditures in FY 2024. Required State funding increases by $24.9 million to $346.0 million, an increase of 7.8 percent, driven by the ongoing implementation of per-pupil funding increases required in Blueprint legislation. This budget also includes a substantial increase in other revenues based on one-time revenue boosts in investment income and the expected payments received for the Juul lawsuit. In total, other revenues are budgeted to increase $2.8 million, a 40.5 percent increase. Federal sources of funding remain the same year-over-year. The remaining funds to balance the budget come from the use of unassigned fund balance in the amount of $21.0 million in the General Fund and a $6.7 million transfer of fund balance from the Technology Services Fund. Overall, the budget relies on nearly $30 million of fund balances to help pay the cost of instructional priorities.

Highlights of priorities funded in the FY 2024 budget includes:

The final adopted budget will be available online soon. Additional budget information is available online now.

FY 2024 Operating Budget Process

Howard County Public School System Staff, the Superintendent, and the Board of Education concluded a very comprehensive budgeting process that incorporated many public discussions related to the priorities, mandates, and funding sources that would drive the development of the FY 2024 Operating Budget.

The Superintendent and staff began engaging in public conversation almost two years ago in an effort to provide regular briefings on the State-mandated Blueprint for Maryland’s Future to the Board of Education and County elected officials to ensure that when these requirements began to come due, the school system’s funding stakeholders would not be surprised by the associated costs.

During this year’s Operating Budget process, the Board of Education held several public hearings and work sessions in January and February to consider the Superintendent’s proposal and to inform and engage all constituents throughout their deliberations. The Board of Education adopted their requested FY 2024 Operating & Capital Budgets and FY 2025–2029 Capital Improvement Program on February 16, 2023, and submitted it to the County Executive.

The Howard County Public School System’s budgeting process is defined by state law and guided by best practices in governmental budgeting and has been recognized by the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) for excellence. The Board of Education and Superintendent are transparent throughout the process and comprehensive information on the budget is provided publicly in a very detailed Annual Budget Book that is available on the budget webpage. Additionally, once the budget is adopted, the school system provides monthly Operating Budget reports to the Board and County with detailed information on revenue and expenditure trends compared to the budget—all in the interest and pursuit of being good stewards of public funds.

Staff will continue to engage all stakeholders throughout the year in anticipation of the development of the FY 2025 Operating and Capital Budgets, the fiscal requirements of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, and ensuring the priorities of Howard County families are clearly identified and elevated throughout the process.