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About the HCPSS FY2020 Budget Shortfall

Caroline Bodziak, PTSA President

Mt. Hebron High School

May 9, 2019


[Read to the end for action to take and a sample email to send.]


From all of the information I have read and attempted to understand on the current HCPSS budget shortfall for fiscal year 2020, here is what I understand:


HCPSS Superintendent, Dr. Martirano, submitted a budget to the Board of Education (BOE) for $998.4 million ($722.9 million in county funds). https://www.hcpss.org/f/aboutus/budget/fy20/fy20-boe-requested-budget-summary.pdf


The BOE submitted an HCPSS budget of $972.7 million ($689.3 million in county funds) to the County Council. https://www.hcpss.org/about-us/budgets/fy20/


The County Council proposes contributing $605.2 million in county funds to HCPSS. https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Portals/0/FY2020%20Proposed%20Operating%20Budget-web.pdf


After stripping out “wants” (v. “needs”) from the BOE’s ask of $689.3 million, there remains a $37.9 million shortfall in what BOE says it needs to operate HCPSS and what the County Council says it can afford.


“Wants” include any additional proposed programs from last year, including:

* Mental Health & Well-Being

* Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Professional Development

* 21st Century Learning, Program Innovation and Technologies


HCPSS obligations include:

* Paying off the deficit in the health care fund

* Maintenance of Effort increases for new students to Howard County (expected 800-1000)

* Negotiated salary increases for teachers and non-teachers

* Non-public placement for special education, materials of instruction, and plant operations.


At the May 8 BOE work session, Dr. Martirano presented the BOE with a list of potential cuts to account for the $37.9 million shortfall. https://scotteblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/05-08-2019-Budget-Work-Session-Document.pdf

As reported on BOE Member Jen Mallo’s Facebook page, those options include:

* Use one-time Savings from previous cuts for recurring expenses

* Central Office Freeze, Personnel Cuts

* Underfund the Health Fund for FY20, Increase Deficit

* Information Technology Reductions

* Print Services Efficiencies

* Utilities Reductions

* Reduce Elem Tech Teachers, and Increase Media Specialists

* Reduce Elem Music Teachers

* Reduce Elem GT Teachers

* Reduce Elem Paraeducators, but increase Kindergarten Paraeducators

* Reduce Middle Math Paraeducators

* Reduce Middle Reading Paraeducators

* Pay less into fixed charges because of personnel cuts

* Reduce Pool Positions

* Increase Class Size by 2 or Increase Class Size by 1


Jen Mallo: “Unless the County Council restores funding or the County Executive gives the school system more funding, many of these cuts will be necessary.”


Issues as I see it:


1. There are no good cuts – each comes with its own set of consequences.


2. Increasing class sizes by 2 – for high school, that means the upper limit for class sizes jumps from 33 to 35. HCPSS would cut 225 teachers. At Mt. Hebron that means surplussing at least 5 teachers, redoing all student schedules, and delaying schedules until August. Possible consequences of increasing class sizes and forcing teacher cuts include:


a. Losing good, quality teachers including teachers of color, who HCPSS is trying to attract.


b. Adding stress to teachers waiting to learn if they will be surplussed and forced to look for new positions late in the summer.


c. Forcing HCPSS school principals, assistant principals, student services councilors and other administrators to waste time redoing schedules, time which could be better used conducting business at the school.


PTA Council of Howard County statements:


“PTACHC opposes any increases to class sizes and would like to see the Board of Education move toward the target class sizes as stated on the current HCPSS website.” (This was voted on and approved at the 5/6/19 PTACHC meeting.)


“PTACHC proposes that the County Council increase funding to the school system to, at a minimum, cover the negotiated salary increases, to fully fund the Health fund, and to provide enough funding for staff and resources needed for expected enrollment growth so that class sizes do not increase.” (At the 5/6/19 PTACHC meeting a vote was taken to support the spirit of this statement - or something close to that.)


What can you do?


1. Testify May 13 - The County Council is holding an Operating Budget Public Hearing Monday, May 13 at 1pm at the George Howard Building @ 3430 Court House Dr. in Ellicott City 21043.


2. Email your comments to the County Executive and County Council members any time up to the Council’s May 29 vote on the budget. Calvin Ball: cball@howardcountymd.gov , https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Contact-Us


Additional Resources to learn more:

* BOE members’ Facebook pages – Chao Wu, Jen Mallo, Vicky Cutroneo and others

* https://scotteblog.com/ - make sure to click on and read links he provides

* https://www.hcpss.org/about-us/budgets/

Suggested letter:

Dear Mr. Ball and County Council members,

I propose the Howard County Council increase funding to HCPSS to, at a minimum, cover the negotiated salary increases, to fully fund the Health fund, and to provide enough funding for staff and resources needed for expected enrollment growth without increasing class sizes. I appreciate the difficulty of balancing the budget but know we are all dedicated to maintaining the world class educational system Howard County enjoys.

Respectfully,

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