Board of Education President Stacy Korbelak today released the following statement regarding County Executive Steve Schuh’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 operating and capital budgets:
“While we are all aware of the fiscal issues that exist in our county, we simply can’t be a world class school system that attracts families and businesses here if we only fund our operating budget at the level minimally required by law. We teach our students to go above and beyond each and every day. It’s time for our local government to follow the lead of our neighboring jurisdictions and do the same.
“We are not an industry that cranks out the same product year after year. We cultivate children, children whose needs grow more diverse every day. We have, for example, three times more English Language Learners than we did 10 years ago, and nearly one-third of our students this year receive free and reduced-price lunches. It gets harder each day to propel our children to reach for the stars when we won’t move the funding level off the floor.”
Superintendent George Arlotto today released the following statement regarding County Executive Steve Schuh’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 operating and capital budgets:
“Given that I am out of town attending a conference of Maryland school system superintendents, I appreciate County Executive Schuh’s willingness to brief me on the details of the budgets he made public today.
“While we are disappointed with the operating budget, the fact that county funding remains at a Maintenance of Effort level is not a surprise. That said, I remain concerned about the future of our school system given that we are in our seventh consecutive year of legally minimum levels of funding. If you perform only the minimum maintenance on a car, over time the car becomes unable to do the things it used to do or that it needs to do. While County Executive Schuh has promised to me to do what he can to increase this funding in future years, it remains a real concern.
“As we work with the County Council and with our Board, we will have some very difficult choices to make. Outside of employee compensation, we will have about $4.1 million to use to address the nearly $13 million in essential programs and supports for students that we requested. While it is too early at this point to make final decisions, things like the expansion of our magnet programs, the addition of staff to address the needs of English Language Learners, and the implementation of early literacy and elementary education initiatives are all in jeopardy.
“This budget makes the $4.8 million in state funding that has yet to be released by Governor Hogan even more critical to our school system, and we would hope that the County Executive and County Council would join us in calling on the Governor to provide that crucial funding.
“The capital budget is one which funds almost all of our major projects and makes a significant investment in upgrading facilities to better the educational environment for our children. We are grateful for the level of support the County Executive has provided in our capital budget.
“With regard to the funding in the county’s capital budget, I want to be very clear that I am not opposed to a Crofton High School, and I appreciate that the County Executive did not take money away from the other much-needed projects in the school system’s capital budget to fund the Crofton project. I am, however, disappointed that the County Executive has chosen to jump ahead of the results of the pending school facilities study and politicize this process with a unilateral budgetary decision. The County Executive, the County Council, the Board of Education, and I agreed to partner on a study to collaboratively chart the course for future school construction and renovation, and this decision alters that course before the results are even finalized.”