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Carroll County Board of Education approves budget, advances it to commissioners

Carroll County Board of Education approves budget, advances it to commissioners
Carroll County Education Association members rallied outside the Board of Education building on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, before the board voted to accept the fiscal year 2020 budget.

A group of about 30 Carroll County Education Association members stood outside the Board of Education a half hour before the board meeting Wednesday to rally with signs bearing messages like: “We can do it!” “We are one!” “Strength in numbers” and “United in red.”

The members of the teachers union had gathered en masse requesting raises one last time before the Carroll County Board of Education voted to adopt its $334,979,586 budget for the 2020 fiscal year that evening.

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The budget the board approved for FY20 is slightly higher than fiscal year 2019’s $331.9 million — with a local county contribution request of about $202 million, almost $3 million more than last year’s $199,214,135.

And those funds include an $8.9 million pool for salary negotiations and 29 new positions, and $2.8 million of inflation assistance.

Members of the Carroll County Education Association have spoken at public hearings and given testimony about why raises should be the top priority for the board since the December, wearing red for solidarity and pushing for FY20 to be the “year of the educator.”

Superintendent Steve Lockard and the Board of Education have listened.

Lockard said since the beginning of his first budget season he recognizes salaries as the No. 1 priority this year, and the Board of Education has also been in support of the efforts to ensure fair, competitive wages.

The upcoming budget is the first since 2008 with no cuts — and marks the end of 10 years of decreases that resulted in the loss of 375 employees.

It is time to not only give meaningful raises to CCPS employees, but to also begin hiring more, Lockard said Wednesday.

This sentiment was echoed by Manchester Elementary School teacher Kathryn Henn during the public comment portion of the meeting that evening.

“I’ve been coming to you for some time now, talking about the trouble in kindergarten,” Henn said. “I’m asking you, please, for more money from the commissioners. We need a pay raise. We also need additional staff.

“We should not have to come before you every year, and make you choose between paying all of us what we deserve and giving us the help what we need in the classroom,” she said.

Evan Warren, the Board of Education’s student representative, said he supported the budget as is, and the other members of the board agreed.

Board member Marsha Herbert recalled what she said at the joint Board of Education-Board of County Commissioners meeting last week, though, about realistically sharing what the school system’s needs are, including the new positions.

She said she felt uncertain about the 29 new positions, but feels it’s time to step up and help teachers.

“2008 was a long time ago,” she said Wednesday. “If we don’t ask for those positions now we are never going to.”

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The next step will be for the budget to go before the Board of County Commissioners for consideration when its budget season comes later this spring.

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