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Our Operating Budget

The HCPSS operating budget covers the cost of day-to-day school operations, with a focus on educating students and supporting teachers. The operating budget prioritizes the greatest needs of students, staff, families, and the school system while progressing toward the mandates of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

FY 2024 Operating Budget: Details on the FY24 Operating Budget and process, including the final approved budget, can be found online.

How the Budget is Spent

Simple, linear graph demonstrating the proportional difference between 84.6% and 15.4%.

The majority of the operating budget, 84.6 percent or $934.9 million, goes to pay salary and benefits for over 9,000 school system employees, more than 90% of which work in schools each day.

The remaining 15.4 percent or $169.7 million of the operating budget is spent on non-compensation related costs. The major expenditures in these areas are:

  • Transportation service providers, excluding administrative costs ($52.3 million)
  • Utilities ($19.8 million)
  • Instructional supplies and materials for schools ($10.8 million)
  • Other instructional costs for schools ($11.1 million)
  • Non-public placements: tuition and transportation costs for over 300 special education students attending non-HCPSS schools ($15.8 million for tuition and $4.4 million for transportation)
  • Technology services and computers ($19.5 million)
  • Maintenance costs for buildings, supplies, and equipment ($8.6 million)

Investing in Our Educators

Over 90% of our 9,094 employees work in schools each day, with 4,715 of those employees being classroom teachers. In our 42 elementary schools, 20 middle schools, 13 high schools, and two centers the staff breakdown is as follows.

Elementary School Staff

Middle School Staff

High School Staff
(includes staff from Applications and Research Laboratory, Cedar Lane School and Homewood Center)

Of each budget dollar, 81 cents funds school staff and teaching materials, 5 cents funds transportation, and 10 cents funds facility operations and maintenance. Maintenance includes custodians, HVAC, plumbing and classroom furniture. Central office administration and support accounts for just 4 cents per budget dollar—representing one of the lowest overhead levels among school systems throughout Maryland. Included in Central Office support are trainers, math and reading coaches, resource teachers and system leadership.

Per-Pupil Spending

The cost per pupil reflects the average cost of providing educational and related services to students in the Howard County Public School System. This spending covers instruction (including salaries and materials), special education, maintenance, pupil personnel (counselors, health supports, social workers), transportation, and food services.



How the HCPSS Budget is Funded

County Funding

County funding is the largest source of revenue for HCPSS. FY 2024 funding of $721.2 million represents a Maintenance of Effort (MOE) level of funding of $648.7 million as provided for in State Law, plus $71.5 million to meet Board priorities, enrollment commitments, and sustain existing service levels. Of this request, $887 thousand represents nonrecurring costs that may be excluded from the Maintenance of Effort in subsequent years.

State Funding

State funding is the second largest revenue source for the budget. FY 2024 state aid from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) show that state revenues increased by $24.9 million, 7.8 percent above the prior year. FY 2024 is the second year of implementing the funding formula changes enacted in the Blueprint legislation. These funding formula changes are driving the increases in state funding.

Other Funding

Other revenue sources include building use fees, gate receipts for athletic events, fees for out-of-county students assigned to HCPSS, interest income, summer school tuition, and e-rate rebates. The increase of $2.8 million is due primarily to the increase in projected investment income. Lastly, the budget assumes no use of fund balance for FY 2024 which represents a decrease of $28.9 million from the FY 2023 budget.

Understanding How Education is Funded in Maryland

In Maryland, public education is funded through the State School Fund based on major aid programs. For each major aid program there is a required state share and required local share, which establish the minimum amount of school funding. The amount of state and county funding for each major aid program is funded based on specific per pupil funding formulas multiplied by applicable student enrollment.

Unless otherwise defined in law, student enrollment is measured two ways: the first measurement is the actual enrollment as of September 30 of the current school year, and the second measurement is the 3-year average enrollment. The greater of the two measurements is multiplied by the prescribed funding amount per pupil. The result establishes the required minimum level of funding by the state and the county. The required level of funding per pupil must be maintained year-over-year. In other words, the amount of funding per student cannot decline year-over-year in Maryland. This is referred to as Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funding.

The minimum level of funding for each of the major aid programs is split between the state and the local government based on relative wealth and other factors. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) calculates the required state share and required local share. The required state share becomes the revenues received from the state. The required local share is what the county must fund. However, a county can fund more than its required local share.

When a county funds an amount greater than the local share, this increased amount of funding becomes the base that must be maintained each year. This is referred to as the required Maintenance of Effort that the county must fund. In addition to the required MOE, the school system can request the county to fund an amount above MOE. The required MOE and the above MOE amounts make up the recurring funding that the county provides. One year’s recurring funding becomes the basis for calculating the next year’s MOE.

In addition, the school system can request non-recurring funding for qualifying one-time expenses. Non-recurring funding does not affect the subsequent year’s MOE. Consistent with the high value placed on public education in Howard County, the county funding provided each year exceeds the required local share.

How the Budget is Monitored and Managed

Once the budget is adopted and the fiscal year begins each July 1, HCPSS monitors and manages the budget providing Operating Budget Financial Reports to Board on a monthly basis. These reports provide detailed information on budget, including revenues and expenditures and actions taken to manage spending with the approved budget.

Monthly financial reports and additional yearly audits →

Approved operating budgets from previous fiscal years →