ELKTON — On Wednesday night, the Cecil County Public Schools (CCPS) Board of Education approved the final unrestricted operating budget request for the 2022 fiscal year. The final proposed budget featured an increase of only $1,394,633, or .7%. The 2022 projected budget presented to the Citizens Advisory Committee on Feb. 2 featured an increase of 1.7% and last year’s budget increase of 4.5%.
Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Lawson said the percentage decrease between the two budget presentations was because of the passage of the Kirwan Commission’s Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. The bill sets aside $1,600,000 for students with disabilities. The 15 positions funded by those positions were moved to the restricted part of the budget, to be voted on in June.
There are five areas of budget increases, salaries, fixed charges (items like pensions and benefits), COVID related safety measures, technology, and the math curriculum.
The county ranks 15th in wealth per pupil and 19th in funding per pupil. An ongoing issue is acquiring staff, partially because of a lack of undergraduate students entering education in local universities. The system has responded by trying to train more teachers in the county itself.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Carolyn Teigland said the staff has been able to secure its own special education services staff, reducing the cost of related services by 22.7%. Teigland said the reduction in the psychological services budget by 61.7% was also due to CCPS’s ability to hire full time staff instead of part-time contractors.
Manager of Business services Sandy Jack said that 15 positions were cut in the latest budget. The reduction in positions was mainly caused by the reduction in enrollment.
“The reduction in positions is not a result of money, the reduction in positions is a result in reduction of enrollment,” said Lawson. “And we think we can serve the students we have with the staffing we have.”
Teigland and Lawson mentioned how a big expense change has been from buying physical books for the school library to subscriptions to online databases, which increased by 118%. A new batch of books, something that Teigland said James Zimmer the instructional coordinator for the social studies program requested, caused the spending on social studies to more than double.
“These textbooks are 2001 edition 7th grade social studies texts,” said Teigland, referring to the previous textbooks. “You don’t want your social studies textbooks to be that old.”
The budget is due to the County Council on Mar. 1.