Interim Schools Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins today recommended a $1.04 billion Fiscal Year 2015 operating budget that would fund expansion of programs of choice at four schools, launch a second STEM middle school magnet program, and open the county’s first contract school in west county.
The proposal, a 3.5 percent increase over the current year’s budget, recommends the addition of 75 positions across the system, 73 of which would be school-based. It also fully funds existing negotiated agreements with two employee bargaining units and provides a compensation placeholder equivalent to a 2 percent increase for all other employees.
“I believe the course we have traveled to craft this recommendation has resulted in a plan that is fiscally prudent and that recognizes the economic constraints that the county as a whole continues to face, but that addresses in a responsible way the needs of our school system as we move forward,” Mrs. Perkins told the Board in her budget address.
Mrs. Perkins’ recommendation, which contains just $5.1 million in program enhancements, would add 32.4 teaching positions to address needs directly tied to continued growing enrollment. Anne Arundel County Public Schools currently serves 78,490 students and is projected to surpass the 80,000 mark in the coming years.
In addition to those positions, the budget recommendation contains funding for 5.5 teaching positions to staff the third year of the Performing and Visual Arts High School campuses at Annapolis and Broadneck high schools, two teaching positions for the fourth year of the BioMedical Allied Health magnet at Glen Burnie High School, two teachers for the second year of the STEM magnet at Old Mill Middle School South, and two teachers to launch the county’s second STEM middle school magnet at Lindale Middle School. Next year, more than 11,000 students – 29 percent of all middle and high school students – will be enrolled in magnet programs across the county.
Also included in Mrs. Perkins’ recommendation is $5.8 million to open the Monarch Global Academy Public Contract School in Laurel, which will offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme and help ease overcrowding at Brock Bridge, Jessup, and Maryland City elementary schools.
Mrs. Perkins told the Board she was presented with requests for 204.8 additional positions from department heads, but approved just 36 percent of those after what she called an “exhaustive and exhilarating” process in which each of the more than 5,000 line items in the school system’s budget was examined.
“There were some difficult and even painful decisions along the way, as there are in any budget process,” Mrs. Perkins told the Board. “However, I believe this recommended operating budget … responsibly puts us in a position to best address the needs of a growing student population.”
Also among the recommended additional positions are two elementary school counseling positions, seven school-based positions to work with students in English Language Acquisition programs, three school-based bilingual facilitators, and two American Sign Language interpreters to assist deaf teachers in their classrooms.
The $192.1 million capital budget recommendation contains no new projects from the current year’s budget. It is nearly $50 million less than the school system’s FY2014 capital budget request.
Included in the plan is more than $18 million for ongoing renovation projects at Annapolis, Crofton, Lothian, and Mills-Parole elementary schools; and $95 million of construction funding for Severna Park High School and Benfield, Rolling Knolls, and West Annapolis elementary schools. The recommendation also contains $10 million for full-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten additions at Jacobsville, Jones, Nantucket, and Seven Oaks elementary schools; and $9 million to continue efforts to enclose open space classrooms with projects at Magothy River Middle School and Meade High School. There is also $6 million requested for gymnasium additions at Millersville and Woodside elementary schools.
BUDGET HEARINGS, WORKSHOP
The Board of Education has scheduled two public hearings and a public workshop on Mrs. Perkins’ budget recommendation. Public hearings will be held on Tuesday, January 7, 2014, at Old Mill High School, and Thursday, January 9, 2014, in the Board Room at the Parham Building in Annapolis. Both hearings begin at 7 p.m. Those wishing to testify can sign up beginning at 6 p.m. Testimony will be limited to three minutes per person.
A public workshop on Mrs. Perkins’ budget recommendation will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, in the Board Room at the Parham Building. No public testimony will be taken at the workshop.