Superintendent Richmond Presents 2014 Budget to the Board

LA PLATA, Md.—Superintendent James E. Richmond recently presented a $339.6 million budget proposal to the Board of Education, stressing the need for increases in salaries, safety and security upgrades and staffing for St. Charles High School.

The Superintendent’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 proposal reflects an increase in funding of $23.9 million or 7.6 percent over FY2013. Richmond is proposing an increase of $23.4 million or 15 percent from the Charles County Commissioners and assuming the state increase will be 1 percent, or $1.5 million.

“This budget covers the basic needs of our system, but still requires a significant increase from the county. This is still in the early stages, as we have not started negotiations with our employee groups,” Paul Balides, assistant superintendent of finance, business administration and technology, told the Board during a budget presentation. “We are committed to the notion of maintaining employment, core academic programs and class size,” Balides said.

Cost increases in the budget include a $9.5 million reserve for contract negotiations that includes two STEPs and salary scale compression. Employees remain one step behind. Richmond said he hopes he can bring employees to scale before he leaves the school system at the end of this school year.

New to the budget are security upgrades. Richmond has asked for $2 million for security cameras, door and lock upgrades, and signage and building access modifications. He also requested $600,000 to phase in elementary school resource officers to provide coverage of elementary schools and the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center. The school system already has a successful school resource officer program that provides a Charles County Sheriff’s Office deputy at each of the county’s middle and high schools.

Additionally, Richmond asked for a $3.1 million cost increase for health insurance, $725,000 to reinstate the Summer Reading Academy program and $1.8 million for technology infrastructure for online testing requirements mandated by the federal Race to the Top. Increases also include funding for Other Post Employment Benefit contributions, student transportation, St. Charles High School staffing and the automated substitute calling system.

Included in the proposed budget is $15.5 million in supplemental items such as classroom supplies, technology, instructional positions, training and textbooks, maintenance projects and additional data clerks and psychologists.

The Board has a Feb. 12 work session planned and will submit its request to the Charles County Commissioners by Feb. 28. “The likelihood of us seeing this kind of increase is not great, but in the absence of state funding, the burden falls on Charles County,” Balides said.

Source: Charles County Public Schools

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