The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County has finalized its Fiscal Year 2016 operating and capital budget requests, and will send County Executive Steve Schuh plans which ask for funding for employee compensation increases, enhancements in elementary education, early literacy and English Language Learner programs, as well as major construction projects at 11 schools.

At its February 18, 2015, meeting, the Board approved seven amendments that added nearly $2.5 million to the operating budget recommended by Superintendent George Arlotto in December. There were no amendments to Dr. Arlotto’s recommended capital budget.

The Board added $602,240 to Dr. Arlotto’s recommendation, stipulating that the funding be used to support a shift of school start times no later than the start of the 2016-2017 school year. The Board approved no formal plan to shift school start times, and the funding put into the budget is in addition to the $738,580 included to purchase bus routing software and hire an analyst to run the software.

The Board’s request also includes $14.6 million for compensation increases, which will be finalized when negotiations with the school system’s employee bargaining units conclude. Approximately $2.4 million is included for 33 additional classroom teaching positions necessary to address continued enrollment growth, which has seen Anne Arundel County Public Schools poised to surpass the 80,000 student mark next year.

In the youngest grades, the request provides $2.5 million for expansion of the Enhancing Elementary Excellence (Triple-E) program, now in place in nine schools in the North County cluster, to 19 additional schools in the Chesapeake, Meade, and Southern clusters. The expansion will bring enhanced instruction to nearly 12,000 elementary students next year and provide crucial planning time for more than 500 teachers.

The Board also requested $1.1 million for additional early literacy and prekindergarten programs. The funding would provide increased teaching services to children in Birth to Age 5 programs and add 14 classroom teacher and teaching assistant positions to expand prekindergarten programs and provide additional service for another 260 youngsters across the county.

Also included in the request is $1 million to continue expansion of the STEM middle school magnet programs at Old Mill Middle School South and Lindale Middle School, and launch a third STEM middle school magnet program at Central Middle School next year, as well as continue expansion of the Bio-Medical Allied Health magnet program at Glen Burnie High School. It also includes $570,000 to continue the expansion of the Performing and Visual Arts magnet program.

The amendments approved by the Board added funding to increase two school psychologists to ensure that every high school has at least one full-time psychologist and to move 16.5 high school counselors and 12 assistant principals from 210-day work years to 12-month status.

The Board’s $163.1 million capital budget request allocates more than $100 million to fund construction projects at Severna Park High School, and Benfield, Rolling Knolls, and West Annapolis elementary schools, and design work at Manor View, High Point, Cromwell, Jessup, and Arnold elementary schools.

The recommendation also contains $11 million for prekindergarten and kindergarten additions at Eastport and Georgetown East elementary schools as well as West Meade Early Education Center; $6 million for gymnasium additions at Millersville and Woodside elementary schools; and $5 million for open space classroom enclosures at Glen Burnie High School.

More information on the Board’s budget request can be found here.

County Executive Schuh will present his proposed county budget to the County Council in May. The County Executive’s proposal will be considered by the County Council before it adopts its budgets no later than June 15. The Board may shift operating budget funding within state categories before it approves a final school system budget by June 30.

The County Council will hold two public hearings as it considers the budget. Those hearing are scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 6 at North County High School and May 11 at Annapolis High School.