The Board of Education on Monday reduced its fiscal year 2015 budget by $5.5 million to cover its funding shortfall due to the opening of a new high school.
The reductions include student transportation, temporary and part-time employees, teacher substitutes, athletic trainers and staff library materials. Additionally, two teaching positions were eliminated from St. Charles High School.
The Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) fiscal year 2015 operating budget of $327.3 million reflects an increase of $5.3 million, or 1.7 percent. State funding increased $2.4 million and county funding increased $2.9 million, or 1.8 percent. The budget requires a $3.2 million transfer from fund balance into the general fund. Revenue allocations are insufficient to fund mandatory operating costs, leaving an expenditure shortfall of $5,543,000 and significant budget cuts.
The Board accepted a change in the model for non-public education transportation. Charles County Public Schools has historically provided transportation for parochial school children. Until 2003, the Charles County Commissioners provided additional funding for the non-public schools student transportation, but eliminated its monetary support, $200,000, that year.
The change includes eliminating any dedicated routes for private schools while still providing non-public school students transportation using existing routes and shuttle services from nearby schools. There were 525 parochial students who used CCPS transportation last school year; 305 students already ride buses on existing routes. The remaining 220 students rode on dedicated private school routes, which will be eliminated and replaced with bus seats on existing public school routes.
The savings from the elimination of dedicated routes is $500,000.
The Board eliminated activity buses, which provides high school students rides home from after-school activities for a savings of $300,000. CCPS has provided activity buses since August 2007.
Other Transportation Savings
The transportation department also consolidated a number of public school routes, changed start times at some schools and created more efficient bus routes in order to offset the increased bus routes needed to open St. Charles High School.
The Board eliminated most temporary and part-time positions, for a savings of $1 million. Attempts will be made to place employees in open positions for which they may be qualified. The positions are largely instructional assistants and supporting services jobs.
The Board eliminated the athletic trainer program, first started in 2009. The cost savings is $200,000. The school system will still have emergency service personnel on site at every football game. The athletic trainer program provided a certified athletic trainer in each high school who would prepare athletes for practice, evaluate injuries, design and implement treatment and monitor rehab programs. Coaches receive training to deal with concussions and first aid.
St. Charles High School
Two teachers and three instructional assistant positions were eliminated from St. Charles High School, a cost savings of $200,000.
Other Cost Savings
Additionally, the cost savings included decreasing teacher substitutes, utilities and other contracts and eliminating a central office allocation for staff library materials. Additionally, Superintendent Kimberly Hill eliminated a number of open central office positions last school year in order to fund additional teachers at elementary schools experiencing student population growth. The budget does not include any salary increases for employees.
The Board voted 6-0 for the budget modifications, which go into effect July 1.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 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.