The Carroll County Public Schools Board of Education voted 4-0, with member Devon Rothschild absent due to health issues, to approve the superintendent’s preliminary fiscal year 2019 budget nearing $331.9 million, leaving a more than $6 million gap between the request and what the school system is presently budgeted to receive from county and state funding sources.
The budget now heads across the street to the Board of County Commissioners.
Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said Wednesday that while there are “a lot of needs” in Carroll County schools, some of which were highlighted during public comment as speakers asked for higher teacher salaries and more resources for students with learning disabilities and special needs, “unfortunately, there is a budget gap already.”
“This is a time where we do need to look at closing that gap and increasing our budget to honor the already negotiated agreements,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have room in our budget for any other improvements.”
Guthrie said while there is the $6.4 million gap, that number is somewhat of a placeholder in the budget as it moves to the commissioners’ hands. CCPS is working with the county government and state elected officials to try to close the gap, he said.
“The state came through with an additional $100,000 which … is helpful but not enough,” Guthrie said. “We will do what we need to do to fund that negotiated agreement.”
The FY19 preliminary nonrestricted budget comes in at $331,888,460, an increase over last year’s FY18 budget of $326,171,468. After a small update to the budget during a Jan. 24 hearing, which included a preliminary funding increase of $311,716 from the state, the budget gap sits at $6,376,684.
Increases from the previous budget primarily come from inflation, about $1.7 million, and the third year of negotiated salary increases at roughly $9.4 million. Decreases came out of net savings from $93,000 in print shop outsourcing, $1.8 million in hiring turnover and a nearly $3.5 million decrease in one-time expenditures from the fund balance.
The January hearing was one of two scheduled public hearings on the budget, though the second hearing scheduled for Feb. 7 was canceled due to inclement weather and was not rescheduled.
At this point, the school system will now wait for the commissioners to delve into the county budget, expected to begin in March, CCPS Chief Financial Officer Chris Hartlove said Thursday in an interview with the Times.
In April, he said, the school system should have an idea of what the county can provide to help close the gap. From there, the Board of Education will start to have discussions about how to bring the budget into balance.
“Typically, we’re not going to get all of the [funding] that we’re asking for,” Hartlove said.
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The Board of Education will vote on the final budget in May.