The Board of Education today approved a $1.17 billion operating budget request for Fiscal Year 2018 that would provide every school system employee with a compensation increase, add 93 classroom teachers, and allocate $20.5 million to address critical issues in the employee health-care fund.
The Board increased the request made in December by Superintendent Arlotto by $7.8 million by including funding it hopes to use to provide “catch up” step increases to employees who did not receive them in Fiscal Year 2010 and who remain in the same bargaining unit as they were at that time. The allocation of such funding will be determined through negotiations with AACPS bargaining units.
The Board approved the amended budget by a 7-2 vote, with members Terry Gilleland and Eric Grannon voting against it.
In addition to the $7.8 million included by the Board today, the budget request includes $15.6 million for compensation enhancements, an amount that would provide full step increases for all eligible employees as well as modest increases for all employees who would otherwise be ineligible for steps. It also includes $3.3 million for 43 additional general education teachers across the system to address a continuing rise in enrollment and help reduce class sizes.
The request also includes $3.3 million for 35.4 positions to help address increasing issues related to the social and emotional wellness of students. Those include 23 teachers and aides for special education students; five assistant principals for elementary schools to allow counselors and reading specialists to concentrate on their areas of expertise instead of administrative functions; three school psychologists and one social worker; and 3.4 school counselors to provide full-time counselors at three additional elementary schools and one early education center.
The Board’s request also includes $20.5 million to help shore up the school system’s health-care fund and fix its structural deficit. The fund has been depleted in recent years as the County Council directed funds from it for other uses within the school system. In the current year, the county and school system worked together to allocate $10 million outside of state Maintenance of Effort provisions to the fund.
The plan also includes $6.8 to open the new Monarch Annapolis Academy Public Contract School in September. The school will be the third operated by the Children’s Guild and will help ease overcrowding issues in the Annapolis cluster.
The budget request also includes:
- $1 million for 10.5 positions to expand the Triple-E program to the seven elementary schools in the Old Mill cluster.
- $763,000 for 10 English Language Acquisition classroom teachers to address a 14 percent rise in the number of English Language Learners.
- $125,000 for two additional bilingual facilitators to undertake the critical work of collaborating with families of these students.
- $152,000 will fund two positions to expand the Central Middle School STEM program to the eighth grade.
- $134,000 for 1.5 positions to address enrollment growth at existing Triple-E schools.
- $216,000 for four community ambassadors to serve as additional supports and resources and to provide critical links between schools and the communities they serve.
CAPITAL BUDGET RECOMMENDATION
Also today, the Board unanimously approved a $240.6 million capital budget request. It would allocate more than $176 million in construction and/or design funding at Manor View, High Point, George Cromwell, Jessup, Arnold, Edgewater, Tyler Heights, and Richard Henry Lee elementary schools, as well as for the new Crofton Area High School.
The proposed capital budget also includes:
- $7.5 million for prekindergarten and kindergarten additions at Park and Shady Side elementary schools.
- $1.1 million to renovate the Carrie Weedon Science Center building in Galesville in preparation for opening an early education center there.
- $7 million for open space enclosures at Brock Bridge and Shady Side elementary schools.
- $6 million for classroom additions at Marley and Solley elementary schools.
The budget requests will now be forwarded to County Executive Steve Schuh. The County Executive’s proposal will be considered by the County Council before it adopts a budget that allocates funding within prescribed state categories in June. The Board may shift funding within operating budget categories before it approves a final school system budget no later than June 30.