Calvert Co. Public Schools News Briefs - Southern Maryland Headline News

Calvert Co. Public Schools News Briefs

Board of Education Adopts Final Budget

The Board of Education unanimously adopted on June 6, 2012, a 192.6 million dollar budget which provides school system operating funds for next school year. This budget contains significant changes from the budget originally proposed by the Board and the Superintendent.

Funding for the school system comes primarily from two sources – the State of Maryland and the Calvert County Government.

In May, the Maryland General Assembly decided to begin passing a portion of teacher pension costs to school systems. This new cost, which was not in the proposed budget, will be 2.8 million dollars for this coming year. The Board added this new pension obligation to the budget before adopting it on June 6. The State will send additional revenue to the Calvert County Government in this initial year to cover the new pension cost. The County, in turn, allocated the additional funds to the school system, as required by law.

In addition, the school system will receive approximately 1 million dollars less in state funding this year largely due to declining school enrollment.

School system funding from the Calvert County Government fell short of the Board and Superintendent’s request by 4.5 million dollars. The County Government met its mandatory maintenance of effort funding level and continued to fund the previously agreed to collaborative grant to the school system.

In order to balance the newly adopted Fiscal Year 2013 Operating Budget, the Board of Education reduced the proposed budget by 3 million dollars and carried over 1.5 million dollars from the current budget.

In a budget message, Superintendent Jack Smith said the school system “is a highly efficient and effective school system that provides a tremendous return on investment. As recently as January 2011, a national study by the Center for American Progress found Calvert County Public Schools to be one of the most efficient and effective school systems in Maryland and in the nation.” He continued to explain that “the school system reduced 61.5 staff positions from FY 2011 to FY 2012 and will need to cut an additional 30 regular education teaching positions from FY 2012 to FY 2013. These staff cuts will be difficult for an already efficient organization.”

Most of the reductions in the size of the teaching force will be accommodated through retirements and resignations. Dr. Smith said, “But make no mistake; we will have fewer teachers providing service to students, and this will affect the classroom.”

Five Calvert Schools Will Have More Instructional Time Next Year

Students Will End Their Days Five Minutes Later

Calvert County Public Schools is lengthening the school day next school year at five schools. By ending the day five minutes later, teachers and students will have more time in the classroom for instructional activities.

The following schools will end five minutes later next year: Beach, Huntingtown, Mt. Harmony, and Sunderland elementary schools and Mill Creek Middle School.

A similar change was made at eight schools this school year, and the change proved to be positive. Beckie Bowen, principal of Mill Creek Middle School, said she welcomes the change because it will provide extra time for students who need additional math and reading support.

This extra five minutes at the end of the school day may affect the time that parents can pick up their children in the afternoon, and it may change the time that students are dropped off at their bus stops. Closer to the beginning of the school year in August, schools will notify parents of any changes in afternoon student dismissal procedures. After August 13, 2012, bus schedules for the 2012-2013 school year will be posted on the school system’s website and can be accessed through the Quick Links section of the homepage.

“The instructional time we are aiming to create, while it may only be 5 minutes a day, adds up to a huge increase over the course of a school year,” said Ed Cassidy, Director of Transportation. Five minutes per day is 25 minutes each week and approximately 16 hours of instructional time each year.

Calvert Middle Student Day Will Begin and End Earlier Next Year

Students at Calvert Middle School will begin and end their school day earlier next school year. The new school day will run from 7:17 a.m. until 2:17 p.m.

The school system is making this change to increase safety as students are dropped-off and picked-up at multiple schools.

Because of the close proximity of Calvert Middle, Calvert High, and Calvert Country schools, some school buses transport students from more than one school on the same bus route. These buses must then unload or load students at multiple schools every morning and afternoon. Changing the time of the school day at Calvert Middle will help the bus traffic flow more smoothly at all three schools.

The school schedules at Calvert High and Calvert Country will remain the same next year.

Calvert County Public Schools Continues Energy Conservation Efforts

Calvert County Public Schools will compress its work week for most employees again this summer to conserve energy and save money. This is just one component of the school system’s continuing effort to use less energy.

Except for schools that have summer school and recreational programs, all elementary and middle schools will be closed on Fridays beginning June 22. High schools and administrative buildings will be closed on Fridays beginning June 29. All buildings will resume their normal 5-day schedule the week of August 6.

Employees who do not work on Fridays will work longer hours on other scheduled work days to compensate for the shortened work week.

This will be the third summer that the school system is closing buildings to save energy. When the buildings are not open, air conditioning systems are switched to an “unoccupied” mode and energy usage is greatly reduced. Last summer, the school system reduced its electricity consumption by more than 10% over the previous summer.

During the summer of 2011, eight buildings were enrolled in a demand response program, which saved the school system $42,000 over and above the amount saved by closing buildings. The demand response program is run by SMECO and helps conserve electricity during times of unusually high demand. Archer Brown, Supervisor of Energy Management, has enrolled an additional eight buildings in the demand response program this year, bringing the total to sixteen (16).

In addition to instituting the compressed summer work week, the school system is using the following energy saving devices to control costs:

-- Occupancy sensors to control lighting;

-- Occupancy sensors to control heating and air conditioning in portable classrooms;

-- Energy efficient lighting fixtures and light bulbs;

-- Programmable time clocks, photocells, and control devices and timers for lights, computers, and vending machines; and

-- Variable frequency drives to control a variety of motors.

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