Superintendent George Arlotto has recommended to the Board of Education a $1.14 billion operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017 that provides employees with full step increases, funds new classroom teaching positions to address enrollment increases and growing class sizes, and provides additional resources to support elementary education and the needs of English Language Learners.
Dr. Arlotto’s plan includes $15.5 million to provide full step increases to all eligible employees and an equivalent increase for employees not represented by bargaining units. It also includes $3.2 million for 33 new teaching positions to break even with ongoing enrollment increases and 10 additional teaching positions to begin to assist in the goal to reduce growing class sizes. Anne Arundel County Public Schools has grown by more than 7,000 students in the last 10 years.
“Our people are the champions for the children with whom they interact every day. In turn, we must continue to champion their cause,” Dr. Arlotto told the Board in his budget address. “We owe that to them. We owe that to them because every day, they are preparing children not just for success in academics, but success in life.”
Dr. Arlotto’s recommendation contains more than $13 million in internal redirections of funding to allocate resources in a more targeted manner in the coming year.
The recommendation also includes:
- $15 million to replenish the school system’s health-care fund, which has been drawn down in prior years as the County has used it to fund other parts of the budget.
- $1.5 million to add seventh grade at the Monarch Global contract school.
- $449,000 for six special education teachers.
- $358,000 to add four English Language Acquisition classroom teachers and an interpreter for the International Student Services Office.
- $169,000 for three additional bilingual facilitators to provide critical assistance and support to non-English speaking families.
- $1.2 million for 11.5 teaching positions to expand the Enhancing Elementary Excellence (Triple-E) program to the nine elementary schools in the Chesapeake and Northeast clusters.
- $654,000 for four positions to enhance the STEM programs at Lindale and Central middle schools.
SCHOOL START TIMES
Dr. Arlotto also included in his budget recommendation $8.1 million to shift school start and dismissal times in August 2017. The funding would be combined with the $602,000 allocated by the County Council this year to enact a plan that would see high schools start at 8:30 a.m., middle schools begin no earlier than 9:30 a.m., and elementary schools open between 7:50 and 9:15 a.m. No school would dismiss later than 4:15 p.m.
Dr. Arlotto said he arrived at the recommendation – which will be discussed at a series of community meetings in January and/or early February – because a multi-year plan to shift start and dismissal times would be difficult from a consistency of funding standpoint and because some schools would have to shift hours two or three times. Shifting school hours in August of 2017 provides time for funding to be in place and for the necessary additional buses to be acquired by contractors.
Dr. Arlotto emphasized that the funding to shift school hours must be in place before any changes would occur and urged the County Executive and County Council not to take it from other areas of the budget.
“If we as a county are truly serious about moving forward as a school system and about adjusting school hours, we must commit to providing the funding to do so and not do it at the expense of our people or our programs,” Dr. Arlotto said.
Details of Dr. Arlotto’s proposal regarding start and dismissal times and a section for public comment can be found here.
CAPITAL BUDGET RECOMMENDATION
Dr. Arlotto today also recommended a $255.6 million capital budget to the Board. It would allocate more than $74 million to pre-existing renovation projects, including Severna Park High School and Manor View, High Point, George Cromwell, Jessup, and Arnold elementary schools.
It also includes:
- $10.4 million for feasibility study and design funding for renovations to Edgewater, Tyler Heights, and Richard Henry Lee elementary schools, and $6.7 million in design funding for a new Crofton area high school.
- $10 million for prekindergarten and kindergarten additions at Odenton, Woodside, and North Glen elementary schools.
- $10 million for a classroom addition at Odenton Elementary School and gymnasium additions at Woodside and Millersville elementary schools.
- $7 million for open space enclosures at Chesapeake High School.
- $1.6 million for renovation work at the Carrie Weedon Science Center in Galesville, with the expectation that we will be able to open a prekindergarten program for 80 students in South County in the fall of 2017.
The capital budget is $95.7 million more than the one approved by the Board in September. Almost all of that increase is allocated to the pursuit of a federal government grant that would provide funding for renovations at Meade High School. The school system would only do the work if it is funded through the federal government grant.
Details about Dr. Arlotto’s budget recommendation, a Budget in Brief, a video of his budget address, and the text of his remarks to the Board can be found here.
BUDGET HEARINGS, WORKSHOP
The Board of Education has scheduled two public hearings and a public workshop on Dr. Arlotto’s budget recommendation. Public hearings will be held on Tuesday, January 5, 2016, at Old Mill High School, and Thursday, January 7, 2016, in the Board Room at the Parham Building in Annapolis. Both hearings begin at 6 p.m. Those wishing to testify can sign up beginning at 5 p.m. Testimony will be limited to three minutes per person.
A public workshop on Dr. Arlotto’s budget recommendation will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19, 2016, in the Board Room at the Parham Building. No public testimony will be taken at the workshop.
The Board is scheduled to approve a budget request to forward to County Executive Steve Schuh in February. 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.