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The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County today adopted a $1.01 billion operating budget that includes $16 million for employee compensation increases and funding for the opening of the county’s first middle school Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program as well as the Phoenix Academy, a state-of-the-art center in Annapolis that will offer special education and alternative education services.

The operating budget, approved by a 8-1 vote, represents an increase of 3.2 percent over the current year’s budget. Board Member Amalie Brandenburg voted against the budget.

The Board’s recommendations will be forwarded to the County Executive, who will present a proposal to the County Council by May. The County Executive’s proposal will be considered by the County Council before it adopts a budget that allocates funding within state categories by June 15. The Board may shift funding within categories before it approves a final school system budget by June 30.

The operating budget also contains funding to add 20 special education teachers and teaching assistants, lease studio space for the growing high school Performing and Visual Arts magnet program, and add the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme at two additional elementary schools. Funding also is included to enhance the highly successful AVID program at Corkran Middle School.

“I believe this budget request reasonably states the needs of our school system while keeping in mind the fiscal constraints that continue to exist in our county,” Board President Andrew Pruski said. “It contains funding to support our dedicated employees, expand our successful and innovative programs like AVID and STEM, and provide a unique, cutting-edge special education and alternative education experience with the Phoenix Academy. The capital budget provides funding for badly needed construction and maintenance projects throughout our county as we continue to seek to improve educational environments for all of our students.”

The Board unanimously approved a $240 million capital budget request that would fund renovation projects at 10 schools, including the completion of construction at Point Pleasant Elementary School in Glen Burnie and the Phoenix Academy. Also included is construction funding for revitalization projects at Annapolis, Crofton, and Mills-Parole elementary schools; the modernization of West Annapolis and Benfield elementary schools; and the replacement of Lothian and Rolling Knolls elementary schools and Severna Park High School.

This budget request also contains feasibility study and design funding for Manor View, High Point, George Cromwell, Jessup, and Arnold elementary schools; $12.6 million for an addition to Crofton Middle School and gymnasium additions at North Glen and Oakwood elementary schools; $11 million for additions to accommodate full-day kindergarten and prekindergarten programs; $9 million for open space classroom enclosures; and $1 million for security upgrades.