Two Howard County Council members are proposing to allocate an additional $8 million in funding for the school system’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget ahead of final approval.
Councilwomen Liz Walsh and Deb Jung, both Democrats, filed amendments Wednesday to add funding to the school system’s transportation software needs, substitute teacher pay and direct instruction — to maintain current class sizes — according to a news release.
One-time funds are also being proposed to address the school system’s employees health and dental fund, which has run a deficit since 2011. The deficit is currently $37 million.
If approved, nearly $400,000 will be added to the transportation software and $300,000 to substitute raises, an increase of $5 per day, Rafiu O. Ighile, the chief financial officer for the school system, said during a school board work session Thursday.
Currently the daily rate for non-degree substitutes is $80, $90 for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and for $108 for retired substitutes, according to the school system. For long-term substitutes — where they fill in for the same teacher starting at 11 days and beyond — non-degree substitutes receive $108 and both degree and retired teachers receive $118 per day.
Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said in a statement for the Howard County Times that he is “pleased” with the collaboration through this process and looks forward to continuing working with the council, County Executive Calvin Ball and the school board as the budget is finalized and adopted.
Ball has proposed $605.2 million for the school system’s operating budget. His proposal is nearly $84 million less than the school board’s request of $689.3 million from the county.
“These amendments are just a first step to address HCPSS’s real and undeniable needs,”" Jung said in a statement. “Moving forward the County and HCPSS must work in a more collaborative fashion to provide the predictability needed for this process to work at its best.”
Besides county funding, the school board’s $972.7 million spending plan seeks $265.7 million from the state, $385,000 in federal funding and $17.3 million from “other sources.”
Walsh said in a statement, “There's an inherent flaw in how we currently fund our schools.”
"We as a county or a council cannot close that gap entirely in one year, but we are resolved to find the plan to do so and are assured by HCPSS that we will have their full cooperation,” she added.
The council will hold a work session at noon Friday regarding all budget amendments. They will approve and adopt the proposed operating and capital budgets Thursday.