The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County today adopted a $1.09 billion operating budget for the coming fiscal year that enhances support for early literacy, elementary education, and English Language Learners; expands school choice options for students across the county; and facilitates increased compensation for employees throughout the school system.
The action comes on the heels of the approval of funding last week by the County Council that exceeded the legally required minimum level by approximately $5 million. It is the first time in seven years that the County has gone beyond the Maintenance of Effort level.
“After so many years of flat per-pupil funding, our County has made a significant investment in moving our school system forward this year,” Board President Stacy Korbelak said. “I believe this funding recognizes the asset that our school system is to our County, and the needs that we have in order to continue to improve the education we provide to our growing and diverse student population. We are certainly grateful for the collaborative effort that has resulted in our ability to further enhance the education we provide to nearly 80,000 students.”
The budget approved by the Board contains nearly $3.8 million to expand the Monarch Academy Public Contract School in Laurel, which will add a sixth grade next fall. It also contains approximately 70 positions that will allow the school system to: launch the Triple E (Enhancing Elementary Excellence) program to 14 elementary schools in the Meade and Southern clusters; open a third middle school STEM magnet program at Central Middle School; expand existing middle school and high school magnet programs; and open the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme at Tracey’s and Waugh Chapel elementary schools.
In addition, the budget established prekindergarten programs at Odenton, Overlook, Riviera Beach, and Severn elementary schools; and added English Language Acquisition teachers, special education early childhood literacy instructors, teachers to address enrollment increases, and school psychologists.
The budget approved by the Board contains approximately $7.2 million for employee compensation increases. The exact nature of those increases will be determined at the conclusion of ongoing negotiations with employee bargaining units.
SCHOOL START TIMES
Also included in the budget is more than $738,000 to purchase bus routing software and hire an analyst to run the software as the Board prepares to shift school start times in the 2016-2017 school year. At today’s meeting, the Board directed Superintendent George Arlotto to reserve the $602,240 provided by the County Council and allocate it as needed in preparation for the start time shift.
The Board also directed Dr. Arlotto to provide a report at the February 3, 2016, meeting on the efficiencies in bus routing that have been found through the utilization of the software so that it can determine the exact nature of a start time shift when it presents its Fiscal Year 2017 budget request to the County Executive.
Also today, the Board adopted a $151.7 million capital budget that contains funding for major projects at the following schools:
- Rolling Knolls Elementary School replacement, $15.0 million
- Benfield Elementary School revitalization, $14.6 million
- West Annapolis Elementary School modernization, $9.7 million
- Severna Park High School replacement, $48.5 million
- Manor View Elementary School revitalization (design), $2.3 million
- High Point Elementary School modernization (design), $2.8 million
- Jessup Elementary School replacement (design), $2.7 million
- Arnold Elementary School replacement (design), $2.6 million
The capital budget also includes $5 million for open space classroom enclosures at Glen Burnie High School and $11 million for additions at Eastport and Georgetown East elementary schools and the West Meade Early Education Center.
For the first time the Council also included $300,000 for playground improvements at elementary schools.