The Carroll County Board of Education unanimously approved a fiscal 2023 budget Thursday for the public school system, including a $416 million operating budget for its 25,000 students.
That amount is $20.7 million more than this year’s budget, and includes a $10.4 million increase in revenue from the county and $10.2 million more from the state.
The school board also unanimously approved fiscal 2023 budgets for food services ($8.5 million), debt service ($10.5 million), and the capital improvements program ($31.7 million). Fiscal 2023 begins July 1.
The capital budget includes $10.5 million from the state for the Career and Technology Center and $6 million in local and state funding for an East Middle School replacement. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning replacement at Oklahoma Road Middle ($5 million) and Spring Garden Elementary ($3.1 million) are also in the budget, as are window replacement at South Carroll High ($2.3 million) and Westminster High ($1 million) and roof replacement at North Carroll Middle ($1.5 million).
The approval came after the Board of Carroll County Commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to allocate from the county’s 2023 budget an additional $2 million in one-time funds to the school system. Commissioners Dennis Frazier, Ed Rothstein, Stephen Wantz and Richard Weaver, voted in favor; Commissioner Eric Bouchat dissented.
In total, the county will provide $215.7 million to the school system in fiscal 2023. Commissioners added the $2 million in one-time funds after the school board, superintendent, and community members all advocated for more financial help for schools.
When the county released its original budget plan for fiscal 2023, the school system was given a $6.4 million increase compared with fiscal 2022. The school board and superintendent asked commissioners to add $4 million to that amount in order to provide salary increases for staff. Commissioners responded by including half the requested amount, allocating a total of $8.4 million in ongoing funds.
According to school system officials, at that funding level, schools would receive 43.2% of the county’s budget, down from an average of 47% the previous five fiscal years.
On Thursday, commissioners decided to give the additional $2 million requested, but made the distinction that it would be one-time funding only. Referencing the additional funding, Frazier called the leadership of the school board “dismal,” and said the members needed to work to stay within their budget.
“We need to use one-time money sometimes to target where we have the greatest needs to support our teachers and our students,” CCPS Superintendent Steve Lockard explained to the board Thursday. “We would rather like to have it ongoing, but we were not able to accomplish that based on the funding we received.”
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School board member Donna Sivigny defended her colleagues’ work during the school board meeting Thursday. “It’s always been an intent to provide any additional funds for employee compensation,” Sivigny said. “I think we said that loud and clear at every single one of our meetings.”