The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County today unanimously adopted a $1.02 billion operating budget for the coming fiscal year that includes $23.2 million for employee compensation increases and funding for 17.5 positions to expand magnet programs and provide critical assistance to English Language Learners and their families.

The operating budget funds a salary scale adjustment and step increase for all teachers and other employees represented by the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, as well as a 2 percent compensation increase for all other employees. It also contains $5.3 million for the Monarch Global Academy Public Contract School, which will open in the Laurel area in August.

Of the new positions, 7.5 will go to expand the BioMedical Allied Health (BMAH) magnet program at Glen Burnie High School, the Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) magnet program at Annapolis and Broadneck high schools, and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) magnet program at Old Mill Middle School South. The school system will make some internal adjustments in order to staff the launch of the second middle school STEM program, which will open at Lindale Middle School in August.

“This budget is the result of a collaborative effort between our school system, the County Executive, and the County Council. It rewards our hard-working employees and continues to move us forward in terms of the cutting-edge programs and essential services that we are providing to children,” Board President Teresa Milio Birge said. “The classroom positions and bilingual facilitators to assist students and their families for whom English is not the primary language are especially critical since these are some of the very students we talk about when discussing achievement gaps.”

To help fund the budget, the County Council elected to draw down approximately $16.7 million from the Board’s health-care fund balance, which is set aside to address fluctuations in claims under the Board’s self-insured plan.

“This should present no significant issues for us in the coming year, but will in future years because we are using one-time money for recurring expenses,” Birge said. “As the County Auditor told the County Council, the school system may need to have some of that funding replenished in Fiscal Year 2015 or future years. In addition, the items that are funded with one-time funds this year will need to be funded again next year, and we can’t do that without increased financial resources that most likely will need to come from the county.”

The capital budget, which also passed unanimously, funds construction projects at Annapolis ($2.3 million), Lothian ($6.8 million), Crofton ($3.5 million), Mills-Parole ($3.6 million), Rolling Knolls ($17.1 million), Benfield ($14.0 million), and West Annapolis ($12.0 million) elementary schools, as well as Severna Park High School ($50.0 million). It also funds feasibility studies for Manor View and High Point elementary schools.

Also included in the capital budget is $8.6 million for open space classroom enclosures at Magothy River Middle School and Meade High School, and $5.0 million for full-day kindergarten and prekindergarten additions at Jacobsville, Jones, and Nantucket elementary schools.