The Board of Education approved its fiscal year 2016 budget Monday night, providing salary increases for employees and funding the addition of a senior class at St. Charles High School.
The Board’s FY2016 operating budget is $334.2 million, reflecting a $6.8 million increase or 2.1 percent more than FY2015. The county provided an additional $4.2 million and state funding increased $640,512. To pay for mandatory cost shortages, the school system moved $5.2 million from the fund balance to the general fund and cut nearly $7.4 million from budget categories including lapsed salaries, technology replacement reserves and utilities. The school system is using the fund balance for general operations and to complete one-time maintenance projects, such as carpet replacements and school playgrounds.
“We value our employees and providing compensation was our first priority. This is an investment in our people who we expect to provide educational access, equity and excellence while making a difference in the lives of children each day. It’s important that we remain competitive so we are able to hire the best new teachers as well as retain our experienced staff,” Superintendent Kimberly Hill said.
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) employees are two steps/levels behind on the salary schedule. Salary step and levels are incremental increases in salary based on previous qualifying professional experience. The last time the school system gave an across-the-board cost-of-living (COLA) increase was 2009.
Pending approval of the school system’s two employee groups, the Education Association of Charles County (EACC) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), all eligible employees will receive a step/level increase. The budget funds a 2 percent COLA for certificated employees at levels 20 or 10, depending on the assigned salary scale. The budget includes a 1 percent COLA for support staff in steps 17 and above.
In addition to salary and the St. Charles opening, other mandated increases include the teachers’ pension, Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) insurance premium, athletic trainers, bus contracts and Project Lead the Way (PLTW). There will be 24 staff members and additional supplies and materials added to St. Charles High School, which are critical to adding a senior class of more than 300 students.
Also affecting the budget is the increased cost of health insurance. To offset increases, the school system and unions agreed to raise health insurance copays for office visits and prescriptions by $5 and emergency room visits by $75, unless admitted. The change is anticipated to save the system $500,000.
Hill said staff worked to avoid program and staffing cuts while making budget reductions. Funding the increases requires reducing an additional $7.4 million beyond state and county funding levels. Savings came from lapsed salaries and FICA targets, increasing health insurance copays, decreasing classified pension plan funding, and eliminating reserve budgets for unanticipated expenditures in programs, technology and utilities.
The FY2016 budget increases the per pupil operating cost to $13,104.
“This budget does not reduce or eliminate successful programs or school improvements. This is a budget that will help us maintain our academic success and provide strong support to the classroom, our students and our staff,” Hill said.
A copy of the Board’s approved fiscal year 2016 budget summary is available at http://www.ccboe.com/aboutus/boe/budget.php.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.