Putting Children First
A message from the Superintendent of Schools
The Howard County Public School System has a national reputation for excellence. I am confident that our system has what it takes to become truly world class. A world class system prepares each and every child with a foundation for success in their choice of college or career, and to discover, and reach, their true potential. New technologies, communication tools, and educational resources open exciting possibilities for the next generation of teaching and learning.
Over the past several years, we have seen exponential growth in the number and proportion of students impacted by poverty. Our schools must adapt to meet the needs of our evolving student population. I am committed to giving teachers the resources they need, so that their time can be spent in the classroom helping every student achieve.
This FY14 budget proposal comes at a time of transition for the school system. We are in the midst of adapting our instructional program to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the requisite skills to succeed in college or high wage careers. This multi-year transition involves implementation of the Common Core curriculum and a teacher and principal evaluation framework that nurtures professional growth. We are investing in research and technology to ensure the alignment of our pre-K through Grade 12 curricular and assessment programs with college and career readiness. And we are evaluating our investments in current programs, initiatives and practices to ensure they yield the desired outcomes.
This transitional period in our educational program coincides with a challenging economic climate. Our school system is dependent on federal, state and local revenues, with 67.9% representing county resources, 30.5% from the state, and 1.6% from other sources. Local revenues directly reflect the health of the local economy, but Howard County, like the nation at large, has not recovered from the recession.
While the federal contribution makes up a very small slice of our total budget, the federal impact on our bottom line is much greater. The ongoing budget turmoil at the federal level, and tax increases for most Americans, further chills the prospects for economic recovery. The potential loss of funding for federal programs such as Title I would impact our students with the greatest needs. The uncertain state of the federal budget has also had a domino effect on funding decisions at the state and local levels.
The total budget request for fiscal year 2014 totals $721.1 million and represents a total increase of $17.4 million, which is 2.5 percent. The $489.4 million requested from the County represents an increase of 1.5%.
This is essentially a Maintenance of Effort budget. It does have several changes that reflect our highest priorities: to support teachers in the classroom and ensure that all students are prepared for college and high wage careers.
This request includes:
- 10% cuts to supplies overall, with the significant exception of monies allocated to schools.
- A decrease in the transportation budget of $872.5K. Recently implemented efficiencies resulted in an overall savings in this area, despite a substantial increase in costs associated with enrollment growth and an increase in the number of homeless students.
- The addition of 67.9 positions to accommodate the expected enrollment growth of 550 students, 25.4 positions to staff Elementary School #41 and Middle School #20, and 10.4 positions to support program enhancements. 12 positions have been eliminated.
- An increase in the cost of employee health and dental benefits totaling $15.5 million.
All in all, we face the prospect of at least several more lean years. We must be strategic in choosing where to invest funds and human capital. My steadfast commitment is to put our children first.
Renee A. Foose, Ed.D.