School board begins looking at ways to eliminate nearly $7 million gap in FY19 funding

With about a month until Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie releases his proposed fiscal year 2019 operating budget, the school board got a first look Wednesday at what is shaping up to be a nearly $7 million budget funding gap.

The preliminary FY19 expenditure budget has increased 1.65 percent over FY18, coming in this year at $351.3 million.


The school system’s preliminary budget, which was discussed at the Dec. 6 work session, shows about a $9.2 million, or 2.7 percent, increase in expenditures over FY18, which is primarily caused by the third year of negotiated salary increases for CCPS teachers and staff.

In addition to the salary increases — which total $9.4 million — there’s also inflationary impact, which adds another $1.7 million.

“I’ve not asked for anything else,” Guthrie said Wednesday.

Those numbers, in addition to two decreases in expenditures — savings of outsourcing the print shop, which amounts to $90,000, and hiring turnover, which amounts to $1.8 million — leave the budget funding gap at $6.7 million after taking into account the $3.5 million planned increase from the county and a $1 million decrease in other revenues.

With that $6.7 million number in mind, the school board began talking about possible funding gap solutions.

Guthrie said because this information is still preliminary, and there is talk of possible legislation from the commissioners, CCPS doesn't anticipate “all of this [money] coming from the county” to make up the gap. But, possible solutions discussed Wednesday did include additional money from the county as well as additional money from the state. The Board of County Commissioners have discussed a number of proposed bills regarding education, and the county’s delegation to the General Assembly is scheduled to hold a public hearing on local bill requests at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Reagan Room of the County Office Building, 225 N. Center St., Westminster.

In addition to increased county or state money, Guthrie told the school board refined cost and revenue estimates might help balance the budget.

“Those are the easy things,” he said.

The other two options, which aren’t options they want to have to do, include reducing teaching staff, which would increase class size and reduce course offerings, or use of one-time funding.

In Wednesday’s discussion, the Board of Education didn’t delve into what could be cut if that decision was made because numbers are still preliminary. The board is reluctant to use one-time money from the fund balance.

“From a fiscal perspective that’s something we don’t necessarily want to do,” Guthrie said. That sentiment was echoed by BOE President Devon Rothschild.

Using one-time money to try to cover ongoing costs makes her nervous, Rothschild said, because the school system will be in a bad place again next year.

“It’s not like we’re having one bad year,” she added.

Wednesday’s budget discussion was to be the first of many.


Guthrie will release his proposed budget at the Jan. 10 school board meeting. On Jan. 24, there will be an operating budget hearing followed by a Board of Education work session. Two weeks later, on Feb. 7, there will be another operating budget hearing, and then on Feb. 14, the Board of Education is expected to adopt the budget.