- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
As 2013 begins, Charles County Superintendent James. E. Richmond’s term begins to expire.
Looking ahead at the next six months, Richmond said it will be busy, but “it’s my job.”
With the new year comes the start of a new budget process, the continued process of hiring a new superintendent and preparations to open the county’s seventh high school.
Next week, Richmond and school staff will present the superintendent’s proposed operating budget for 2014.
Richmond did not indicate exactly what the details of the budget include because the board of education has not yet seen it.
The school system is currently operating on just more than $300 million.
As for predictions on new monies from the state and county for 2014, Richmond said looking at the economy, the county and the nation, it doesn’t look good in terms of increases.
He said he would like to see increases but hopes to at least get maintenance of effort from the county, and if state funding is flat, the school system will work to maintain operations without adding any new programs.
Maintenance of effort means the county would fund the school system the same amount it did the year before, with increases based on enrollment.
Regardless of how the budget looks for 2014, Richmond said his priorities will remain the same, with safety and teacher compensation at the top of the list.
An increase of about $10 million would be needed to get teachers back on track with their step increases, he said.
As for safety, currently every middle school and high school has a Charles County sheriff’s officer, known as a school resource officer, assigned to it.
There are also securitycameras at every school with recent upgrades and additions to the cameras at the middle and high schools.
Richmond would not elaborate on plans for additional security measures but said that safety has always been his top priority.
When it comes to student safety, Richmond said administration always has to anticipate and think of the “what ifs.”
“You have to be on chapter 10 when most people are on the introduction,” he said.
Richmond said the school system has always had a great relationship with the sheriff’s office.
Coming into 2013, Richmond said that while St. Charles High School won’t open until 2014, he feels “it’s my responsibility to do the redistricting.”
Every high school will be redistricted to accommodate the new high school and help alleviate crowding in the current six schools.
Currently, three of the six high schools are overcrowded. North Point is the worst, with some 600 too many students.
Richmond plans to present a redistricting recommendation to the school board in coming months, but the ultimate decision will be made by the board in June.
He said he wants redistricting to be complete one year prior to the school’s opening.
“I’ve always done it that way,” he said.
Richmond also plans to hire a principal for St. Charles High School before he leaves.
With uncertain funding figures, Richmond said he wants to see to it that his efforts in keeping up with technology continue with the help of partnerships.
This year, he plans to hold a summit with major players in the technology field and school staff “to try and keep the system from falling too far behind.”
Corporations invited to the summit will include CISCO, Hewlett Packard, IBM and the Space Foundation.
Many partnerships with corporations have been established already.
With the school system searching for its newest superintendent, Richmond continues in his role and plans to stay busy right up until his last day at the end of June.
The beginning of 2013 will be “real busy for us,” he said, as the system transitions to a new administration.
As for what the school system will be working with financially in the future, Richmond said he doesn’t know what to expect. The school board will present its budget to the county in coming months, and he said he can hope things will be better than what they are, “but who knows.”
School board member Jennifer S. Abell said she looks forward to starting 2013 and “although there may be some challenges facing us, it’s nothing the system cannot overcome.”