Foose introduces FY2018 operating budget proposal for Howard schools

Foose introduces FY2018 operating budget proposal for Howard schools

Howard County schools superintendent Renee Foose revealed her fiscal 2018 operating budget proposal Tuesday night, an $868.9 million budget request that tops last year's request by $30.2 million.

Last year's approved operating budget totaled $808.4 million.

In her latest proposal, which Foose shared with the Board of Education Tuesday night, the superintendent suggests the county provide $622.6 million, while state and other revenue sources were budgeted to be $238.7 million and $7.6 million, respectively.

The school system's 2017 approved operating budget included $562.2 million from the county, $235.1 million from the state and $11 million from other funding.

Instruction and teaching materials garnered 80 percent of the proposed budget, Foose said, with 11 percent for operations and maintenance, 5 percent for transportation and 4 percent for central office.

"Howard County is the fastest growing school system in Maryland and the additional enrollment requires additional funding to support students and teachers," Foose said. "This year, HCPSS also must absorb the $22.4 milion shift of pension costs without a corresponding increase funding from the state. We have implemented significant cost-saving measures and the budget contains no new initiatives, only what is needed to sustain excellence in our school system and meet the escalating enrollment growth."

Her proposal reflects an expected enrollment growth of 1,860 students in fiscal 2018, with an expected total of 1,300 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten next year.

To address enrollment growth, Foose's proposed budget adds 123.9 new positions, which are not included in the maintenance of effort funding requirements, or

the minimum amount of funding the county must provide its school system under state law.

Foose said the budget also incorporated $22.3 million for salary increases, employee benefits funding of $36.2 million and special education services funding of $400,000.

Although delayed in past budgets, Foose said the fiscal 2018 budget would restore $2.9 million in prefunded expenses as well as school and fields maintenance. One million would also go toward opening Elementary School 42, while $300,000 would be used to relocate the Harriet Tubman Building offices.

Changes in state retirement cost calculations, a renegotiation of early retirement plan payments and zero-based budgeting savings offset the budget by $9.7 million, Foose said.

Paul Lemle, Howard County Education Association president, said it's crucial that the superintendent's request be fulfilled.

"Howard County students will need County Executive Allan Kittleman to fully fund the Board of Education's request, because enrollment growth could be as high as 2,000 additional students," Lemle said. "Our negotiated agreements help us attract and retain the very best educators, and we'll need Gov. [Larry] Hogan's help also because the state has shifted pension costs to local government."

An online community forum on the proposed 2018 operating budget is scheduled for noon on Tuesday, Jan. 24, and a public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The board plans to adopt its budget request on Feb. 2.

To view the budget proposal or past budgets, go to www.hcpss.org/about-us/budgets or contact the public information office at publicinfo@hcpss.org or 410-313-6682.

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