Chas. Co. School Superintendent Proposes $229 Million Budget - Southern Maryland Headline News

Chas. Co. School Superintendent Proposes $229 Million Budget

LA PLATA, Md. (May 12, 2011) — Superintendent James E. Richmond presented a $299.2 million budget proposal to the Board of Education Tuesday, which is a $4.4 million or 1.5 percent increase over this school year.

The Superintendent’s proposal includes a reserve for step and scale adjustments for eligible employees, a one-time payment for employees not eligible for a step increase, technology upgrades, fuel and utility cost increases, and pension administration fees. If approved, the step increase leaves employees one step behind. Employees did not receive a step this school year. Step increases are contracted periodic increases in an employee's rate of basic pay from one step of the grade of his or her position to the next higher step of that grade.

Funding increases reflect include an additional $5.3 million from the state and maintenance of effort, or $324,100, from the county. The fund balance was reduced by half, to $1.3 million, in order to shrink the school system’s reliance on year-end savings to fund operations, said Paul Balides, assistant superintendent for of finance, business administration and technology. Additionally, a reduction of 27.5 vacant positions provides approximately $1.5 million to balance the budget.

Other funding adjustments include moving items previously covered by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which ends in September, to the federal ARRA Ed Jobs funding program, which is restricted to employee compensation and continues to fiscal year 2013. Transferred salary costs include teacher substitute payments, tuition reimbursement, extended day stipends, pay for hourly special education instructional assistants and staff development.

“This budget begins to address some of the areas hardest hit due to the economy and does not further reduce or eliminate successful programs and school improvements. We continue to build on our academic success and provide strong support to the classroom, our students and our staff,” Richmond said.

The Superintendent is requesting authority to take a $3 million loan to provide technology upgrades, including five-year replacements of aging computer equipment and the addition of Telepresence rooms, a state-of-the-art teleconferencing technology, that connects Charles County students globally, to four more high schools. Westlake and Maurice J. McDonough high schools have Telepresence labs. Repayment of the loan would be $500,000 annually.

Transportation costs include fuel price increases, 25 bus replacements and four new buses. A pension plan increase, passed on from the state, charges $163 per participant in the State Retirement system. There are 2,846 Charles County Public Schools employees in the state system. Health insurance increases were offset by changes to the school system’s coverage, including cost saving measures on employees’ prescription drug plan.

The Superintendent’s proposal brings the per pupil operating to $11,476, an increase of $118 from FY 2011. Sixty-eight cents of each dollar is dedicated to classroom instruction. Nearly 80 percent of the school system’s operating budget is committed to employee compensation.

Lunch prices will increase 10 cents, to $2.15 for elementary students and $2.40 for middle and high school students. The increase is to comply with federal subsidy requirements for participation in the free- and reduced-price meal program. The food service program is self-supporting and not funded through the school system’s operating budget.

A copy of the Superintendent’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal and presentation is available at

The following is the schedule for the budget adoption:

— Board of Education Work Session – May 23, 6 p.m., Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, La Plata

— Board of Education submits budget to county – May 24

— Charles County Commissioner Public Hearing – May 25, County Government Building, La Plata, time to be determined

— Board of Education adopts final budget – June 14

Source: Charles County Public Schools

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