By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun
8:29 PM EDT, March 13, 2012
The Baltimore school system is projecting that it will spend $155 more per pupil next year, as the district looks to protect schools' spending power as costs rise.
That will mean another year that the district's central office could get leaner, city school officials said, as the system attempts to restore the flexibility that schools have lost in their budgeting since 2009.
"This is a complete flip in what we've done, so that schools can maintain their programming and staffing," Michael Frist, the district's chief financial officer, told the city school board Tuesday. "Any burden ... will be felt at central."
In preliminary budget talks — the system's budget isn't scheduled to be formally presented until April — Frist said the amount that schools receive per-pupil next year will rise about 3 percent, from $5,000 to $5,155.
The system will seek to further protect schools by limiting the amounts school budgets can fluctuate. Budgets will not decrease by more than 15 percent of their budgets or gain more than 10 percent.
The amount of additional funding, called "student weights," will also increase for certain groups.
The weights for students who have scored basic and advanced on state assessments will increase from $994 to $1,000. The weights for students with disabilities, $641, and high school students who receive free and reduced-priced lunch, $750, will be maintained from last year.
The city was also facing a $35 million shortfall in next year's budget, which Frist said was steadily closing. The system will use $15 million in carryover funds to help close the gap.
The system still awaits 70 percent of its revenue stream from the cash-strapped state, which is estimating a $1 billion shortfall.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the amount and percentage of the funding increase.
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