Advertisement
Howard County Times
Howard County

Howard superintendent proposes $112 million increase and more than 480 new staff positions in 2023 public schools operating budget

Howard County Public School System Superintendent Michael Martirano announced a $1.07 billion proposed fiscal 2023 operating budget for the school system last week. The budget includes increased spending of $112.5 million when compared to last year and an additional 483.4 full-time equivalent new staff positions.

Martirano’s proposal requests county funding of $748.3 million, a $119.9 million increase (19.1%) over fiscal 2022.

Advertisement

Martirano highlighted the need for increased funding to support students’ behavioral health as well as educational needs as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Additional spending will also be necessary to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a multi-billion dollar plan that affects schools statewide.

The proposed budget also includes about $2 million needed to open the county’s 13th high school in 2023.

Advertisement

“The budget that I presented to the Board of Education meets the needs of our students, staff and families as we continue to operate in a pandemic and prepare to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” Martirano said. “I look forward to working with the board and our county partners as we advance a budget that meets the needs of the school system.”

The proposal includes a total of $41.5 million for staff compensation to fulfill fiscal 2022 bargaining unit agreements, increase salaries in fiscal 2023 and provide for increased benefit costs.

Jahantab Siddiqui, chief administrative officer for HCPSS, said the pandemic played a major role in what the school system prioritized in the budget.

“The budget is built on meeting the needs of our students and staff, including addressing many of the needs that have [been] exacerbated during the pandemic and brought to the forefront the need for additional supports and resources,” Siddiqui said. “At the same time, the budget also includes all of the mandated programs and initiatives that are required by the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation beginning in [fiscal year] 2023.”

The proposal includes $6.4 million and 65 new staff positions for critical areas in health and well-being services and instructional support; $7 million and 144 positions to address critical shortages in special education staffing; $26.8 million for technology, including 15 new positions, classroom technology, networking and security, specialized instructional technology and student devices; $4.6 million and 42 positions to sustain enhanced air filtration measures and increased maintenance and cleaning of schools; and $5.2 million and four positions for student bus services.

Howard County Times: Top stories

Howard County Times: Top stories

Weekdays

Daily highlights from Howard County's number one source for local news.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future initiatives are projected to cost $34.3 million and add 199 staff positions.

The school system plans to begin expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds at a cost of $7.1 million and addition of 143.2 positions. College and career readiness and dual enrollment expansion efforts are budgeted at $4.7 million and 40 positions.

Advertisement

Siddiqui said the changes to the budget from previous years will help to target the specific needs within the school system.

“The budget will help the school system implement the much needed reforms as guided by the Blueprint law, but also help us address significant needs in areas such as health services, student well-being and support, special education, and many other areas,” he said. “While we have known the needs have been there, these needs have been pushed to the forefront during the pandemic and even if not directly required by the Blueprint, there are many initiatives in this budget to increase student support to students that directly intersect with the Blueprint.”

The board has planned public hearings on the budget proposal on Jan. 27, Feb. 7 and Feb. 17, and will hold work sessions on Feb. 2, 3, 7, 9, 14, 17 and 22.

The board is scheduled to adopt the school system’s budget request on Feb. 24. The final operating and capital budgets and capital improvements program for the school system is scheduled to be adopted on May 26, after the Howard County Council holds its own public hearings, implements revisions and adopts the county budget.


Advertisement