TOWSON, MD—Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams presented a $2.43 billion operating budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2023 during this week’s meeting of the Board of Education of Baltimore County.
Williams introduced the budget proposal by highlighting that BCPS, like all public school systems, continues to experience unprecedented stresses from the global pandemic and concurrent weakened economy.
“The complete reimagining of teaching and learning and school system operations stretched our staff, students, and families in unimaginable ways,” Williams said. “Thankfully, the resiliency and creativity of Team BCPS ensured the continuation of operations in and out of the classroom.”
Specific impacts from the pandemic noted by Williams include stresses on student academic progress and emotional well-being; a drop in student enrollment, especially in the earliest grades; and challenges in maintaining staff morale and hiring and retention levels.
The proposed FY2023 budget, Williams said, is designed to address these issues through additional targeted positions and compensation enhancements.
Williams noted that, in addition to the pandemic, BCPS continues to adjust to an increasingly diverse student body and anticipates projected enrollment growth. Since 2010, the school system has witnessed a 205.1 percent increase in English learners, a 44.3 percent increase in students eligible for Free and Reduced-Price Meals (FARMS), and a 20.6 percent increase in students experiencing homelessness.
This fiscal year, BCPS enrolls 111,120 students including 53.9 percent eligible for FARMS.
According to Williams, the pandemic has strained resources for vulnerable students by limiting food and nutrition programs, changing the traditional delivery of special education, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and social-emotional support services, and requiring restructured curriculum and training to deliver remote instruction.
Williams described the budget as focused on “people and progress” and said that it comprehensively addresses:
- Special education/English learners and additional staff
- Magnet support and school per pupil allocation/school budget increases
- Emotional support staff
- Critical maintenance and transportation
- Employee compensation
In total, new initiatives in the proposed FY2023 operating budget would require an overall increase of 381.3 full-time positions and $172.4 million.
Williams noted that federal and state COVID support grants will fill critical gaps in the BCPS budget through FY2024 and that, in alignment with the school system’s recent efficiency review, BCPS will save approximately $7.7 million through cabinet reorganization and device cost reduction.
The new budget proposal seeks a 16.9 percent increase in county funding and a 3.9 percent increase in state funding compared to FY2022, in the general fund.
The FY2023 proposed budget will be posted online here.
PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULED
A Board public hearing on the budget will be held on Tuesday, January 18, at 6:30 p.m., (virtual hearing) to be followed by a Board work session on Tuesday, January 25, at 6:30 p.m. Snow dates for these meetings are Wednesday, January 19, and Wednesday, January 26, respectively) The Board is scheduled to adopt the budget at its Tuesday, February 22, meeting, at 6:30 p.m.