|Dr. Hairston’s frequent visits to schools and conversations with students and staff help ensure that his budget proposals effectively support teaching and learning.|
Citing the need to continue to make progress in fulfilling the school system’s comprehensive plan for student achievement, the Blueprint for Progress, Superintendent Dr. Joe A. Hairston identified three key priority areas when he proposed his Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Operating Budget to the Baltimore County Board of Education at its January 10th meeting. In his presentation, Dr. Hairston focused on continued support for quality staff, improved academic programs, and a higher standard in school building maintenance.
“This budget,” he said, “is a good-faith response to public demand – and our own sense of responsibility – that we present a budget that best meets our needs as we continue to provide quality services to our children. Now is the time to establish a stronger, more stable base from which to operate under a new, higher set of performance standards. If we are to expect more of students, we must expect more from ourselves.”
For the first priority, high-quality staff, the proposed budget identifies a total of $34.2 million in additional funds over the FY 2006 budget to support salary restructuring and pay increases for teachers and staff.
“Our students have made significant academic gains over the past several years, largely due to the excellent job performance of our teachers. I am committed to supporting our quality staff,” Dr. Hairston said.
The budget also supports key academic initiatives such as the expansion of Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a proven program that prepares students for college success (which is now in its fourth year of implementation across the district and is offered in 15 BCPS high schools), and the expansion of Advanced Placement in high schools that need support to raise academic rigor.
“My goal is to responsibly prepare all children to have options and to make choices – and not have their futures imposed on them because we were not able to support their potential,” said Dr. Hairston. “More important, not only will these programs positively impact the students who are enrolled in them, they will transform the overall instructional focus and climate in our schools to benefit all students.”
Together, the expansion of AVID and Advanced Placement programs would require about 23 new teaching positions and a total of $1,335,400 in the budget proposal.
Another highlighted priority was support for differentiated staffing for targeted reading acceleration in strategic middle school and high school locations. A total of 15 full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching and resource positions representing a cost of $598,200 is included in the Superintendent’s proposal for support of differentiated reading and 10.4 FTEs are included for reading intervention in middle schools at a cost of $414,800.
Other academic initiatives recommended to receive noteworthy funding are:
Another major priority in Dr. Hairston’s proposal is facility upkeep. In the interest of ensuring that students attend safe schools conducive to student learning and quality teaching, he has requested a total of $5,506,500 in additional funds over FY 2006 for new positions, equipment and materials so that maintenance and repairs can be addressed before becoming disruptive emergencies. For example, the budget supports the addition of 12 trade technicians to the maintenance staff, some of whom can be dispatched on the second shift to address day-to-day school repairs before classes begin the next day.
Dr. Hairston also noted that the budget anticipates increases in health benefits and energy costs. “These are things,” he noted, “that we must do and that we have no control over. Increased expenses for health care and utilities are impacting every citizen and every business.”
Additionally, Windsor Mill Middle School will open in August 2006 and expansion of pre-kindergarten and all-day kindergarten programs will continue.
The Superintendent’s proposed $1,062,288,437 general fund budget represents an increase of $72,400,050, or 7.3% over the FY 2006 budget. As proposed, this represents a county contribution of $616,477,070 for a 4.2% increase over last year and a state contribution of $435,536,626 for a 12.7% increase in state funds over FY 2006.
The proposal follows the BCPS Board of Education adoption of a $197,822,000 capital project fund budget in December making the total proposed budget for FY 2007 (with all sources and uses) $1,415,386,286.
Dr. Hairston noted that while public education is provided free of charge to students and families, it is hardly free. Dr. Hairston described the proposed budget as “responsible,” “modest,” and “realistic.”
When Dr. Hairston finished presenting his proposed Fiscal Year 2007 Operating Budget for Baltimore County Public Schools, the Board’s immediate response was one of praise for the clarity of presentation, emphasis on school maintenance, and level of detail.
“I am always very proud of our redirects,” said Board President Tom Grzymski. “If we don’t think something is working, we redirect those funds to support more successful initiatives. “ He also noted that the budget’s inclusion of several major maintenance items and increased maintenance staffing, “made it obvious that the Board’s concerns have been heard loud and clear.”
The Board of Education will hold a public hearing
on the proposed budget on Wednesday, January
25, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at Ridge Ruxton School
in Towson (sign up to testify will start at
6:00 p.m. that evening) and will conduct a work
session to discuss the proposal on Tuesday,
January 31, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the ESS Building
on the BCPS Greenwood administrative campus
in Towson. The Board of Education is scheduled
to vote on the proposed FY 2007 operating budget
on February 14, 2006.
Story by Diana L. Spencer, Communications Officer.