At a joint meeting, the Board of Education and the Board of County Commissioners went back and forth on funding as deadlines loom.
The budget portion of the agenda got the most attention as the state funding picture starts to come clearer.
The Board’s request to the county commissioners has changed since the superintendent’s first rough presentation in early January. At that time the school system asked the commissioners for an $8.9 million, or 4.65% percent, increase over the previous year’s funding.
Thursday, that request had been whittled down to $1 million. The BOE also floated a one-time request for half-a-million to fill a hole in maintenance funds, which have been slashed in previous years in order to balance the budget.
Foundational funding, commonly called Thornton funding, comes from the state and is generally based on population and formulas. Carroll received more than expected in initial proposals, getting 2.7 million more than the previous year.
Board Member Patricia Dorsey said this would be a change from how things were done in previous years when the county told the schools what funding they could provide and then it was up to the schools system to find places to cut after that.
Commissioner Ed Rothstein stressed how little the county revenues had grown year over year and how difficult the $1 million increase would be for the county budget.
Board President Donna Sivigny asked the commissioners to consider it in context of the past years when the Board had to make cuts. In three years, the school system closed three schools, cut more than 50 positions from all areas and cut the maintenance budget.
“We’ve taken out everything with the exception of basic inflation and the anticipated negotiated agreements,” she said.
Commissioner Steve Wantz said the commissioners had made very clear how many projects they had had to drop in order to make the county budget work.
“There’s a ton of things not going to happen because of where we are ...I don’t know where else we can get from, unless we raise taxes,” he said.
The school system was also able to see a clearer picture of the funding they will receive if Gov. Larry Hogan decides to release supplemental budget for FY20, allowing the counties to receive the first year of funds from the The Education Blueprint for Maryland's Future, commonly called the Kirwan Commission bill.
One section of funding is for an increase in teachers’ salaries. If the school board can show the state a 3% increase locally in teacher salaries, the state will add another 1.5% increase on top.
In Carroll, the school board would need about $4.5 million to provide a 3% increase in order to get about $2.25 million from the state.
Sivigny said that if the commissioners cannot fund the $1 million increase, the board may not be able to make the required salary increase and would be leaving the state money on the table. “That’s just bad business and bad for the teachers” she said.