Education, Opinion, Politics

Delegates Szeliga, Nawrocki sound off after Baltimore County School Board dissolves Budget Oversight Committee

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TOWSON, MD—Delegates Kathy Szeliga and Ryan Nawrocki are urging the Board of Education of Baltimore County to restore the Budget Oversight Committee. In a surprise move after 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, the Baltimore County Board of Education Chair asked the Board to dissolve its permanent Budget Oversight Committee. After a lengthy and intense debate, the motion passed 7-4. All committee members (excluding the board chair) voted against the action.

The delegates say this latest action is one of several attempts by BCPS to bypass Board oversight this budget season:

  • In January, BCPS launched the FY2025 budget to the media rather than the Board, as has been past practice.
  • Only one board work session on the budget was scheduled and held (compared to multiple sessions in prior years).
  • Members’ time for questions during this solitary work session was drastically limited and strictly enforced.
  • Answers to many board member budget questions (often asked by our constituents) that were posted to the BCPS website were woefully inadequate.
  • Finally, in late February, the Board was asked to approve a proposed FY2025 budget without department financials or staffing details.

Delegate Ryan Nawrocki said, “In a year of significant budget changes, including position reductions, and following enterprise-wide zero-based budgeting, the School Board received LESS information than ever. Why?”

Delegate Kathy Szeliga added, “School funding deserves full examination and debate. This year’s budget warrants more scrutiny – not less!” More than 50% of county tax dollars fund our public schools – $2.4 billion annually. If the body you elect to oversee those dollars can’t even see where your money is being spent, how can you trust that the dollars are being used wisely?

“We urge the Baltimore County Executive and the Baltimore County Council to join our calls to reverse this wrong decision,” the delegates said. “The public deserves an open, transparent, and accountable government, and BCPS is no exception. Reinstate the budget oversight committee and appoint members who support its work and goals.”

“Last night’s disbandment of the board budget committee is the latest move by leadership to block governance and decrease transparency,” said School Board member Julie Henn.

“We need to understand how more than $2 billion annually are allocated and to recommend adjustments for teaching and learning success,” Henn added. “This is the board’s job – and it’s state law. But once again, we have been blocked from doing it. We are blocked from asking the questions on your minds – and from receiving the information we need to make informed decisions.  This work matters. And the citizens of Baltimore County deserve better. You deserve a board that does its job and doesn’t take no for an answer.”

Photo via Pixabay

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