Howard schools superintendent provides list of potential budget cuts, including class-size increases

Less than two weeks after unveiling the Howard County Public School System’s fiscal 2021 spending plan, Superintendent Michael Martirano presented a list of potential reductions to his $964.1 million budget proposal at the request of the school board.

Board of Education member Christina Delmont-Small made a motion during the Jan. 14 work session to have Martirano provide the board with a list of reductions and reallocations that “would have to be made” if the county is unable to fully fund the $670.4 million ask of the overall budget proposal.


Martirano found potential cost savings in three areas:

  • Increase student class size by one across all grade levels, generating $8.8 million in savings, or increase class size by two across all levels, saving $14.3 million;
  • Phase in Martirano’s $15.1 million request to add nearly 217 new special education positions and instead add half in fiscal 2021 and the remaining in fiscal 2022 to save the school system $8 million in the first year;
  • Cut the requested $5 million to bolster general education staffing with nearly 59 new positions to support anticipated student growth.

While detailing the potential cuts during Tuesday’s work session, Martirano stressed that “at this point, I do not recommend any reductions.”

The school board did not comment on Martirano’s list during the work session.

The $964.1 million budget proposal, presented earlier this month, is requesting $670.4 million from the county, $285.6 million from the state and $8 million from additional sources.

County staff has indicated in conversations with the school system to expect a 2% to 3% increase to what was provided last year. Martirano is asking the county for an increase of $63.2 million, or 10.4%, from the fiscal 2020 operating budget.

The final budget hearing is Jan. 28, with four work sessions remaining: Jan. 28, Jan. 30, Feb. 5 and Feb. 6.

The board is expected to adopt the budget Feb. 13 before it moves to the county executive and County Council.