Carroll County Public Schools officials are asking parents and community members to weigh in on priorities for the next budget cycle — from teacher pay to new positions to expanded programs — during a series of town hall-style meetings across the county.
The first was held at Francis Scott Key High School on Monday, Oct. 7. Two more are coming up — on Nov. 6 in Westminster and on Dec. 9 in Winfield. Feedback can also be submitted via email.
Monday’s meeting began with a primer on the CCPS budget process. School officials presented from The Citizen’s Guide to the Budget Process, a document that’s also available online at the CCPS website. It breaks down where funding comes from, where the budget goes, and what the timeline is for the next financial year approaching approval of the fiscal year 2021 budget. Between September and December, the superintendent weighs options and community feedback and works on prioritizing budget initiatives.
Superintendent Steve Lockard and several members of central office staff led the discussion. The members of the Carroll County Board of Education attended as did the school’s principal.
The meeting at FSK was sparsely attended with CCPS staff far outnumbering the handful of parents or community members.
After the meeting, Lockard said he would love to see more people attend and provide input, but he felt that the discussion had been strong.
“There are things that compete so you cant do them all,” he said. “It’s important to get feedback from our community as we prioritize for the next few years.”
CCPS staff asked attendees to ponder a list of 12 items CCPS is considering for its upcoming FY21 budget request and rank them in order of importance. There was also a separate section for write-in suggestions.
The school system used its strategic plan to identify priorities that ranged from employee compensation to school-based resources, Lockard said.
The proposed priorities included:
Four special education resource teachers;
Eleven academic specialists in elementary math;
Seven academic specialists in middle school math;
Three school psychologists;
Two intervention specialists;
Two on-site technicians;
An additional coordinator in the area of school security;
A substance abuse prevention teacher specialist;
A coordinator of health services;
Investment in the creation of a virtual learning program;
Expansion of the pre-kindergarten program.
Detailed explanation for each of the items is available in the information packet provided at the town hall meetings. On Monday, CCPS staff was on hand to talk through the items with attendees.
The attendees also had a chance to talk about the reasoning behind their rankings and said it had been difficult to choose between them.
The next budget town hall will be held on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. at the media center of Westminster High School. Another will be held at South Carroll High School at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9.