The St. Mary’s County commissioners approved Tuesday the new budget for the board of education before a packed audience, after an additional week of review.
The public school budget of $189.2 million includes $89.9 million from St. Mary’s County government. Before the unanimous approval, Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) apologized for his remarks last week, which included a vulgarity when criticizing comp time leave included in a new contract with school administrators.
The fiscal 2014 budget year begins Monday, July 1, and the commissioners aren’t scheduled to meet again until July 16.
Superintendent Michael Martirano again noted Tuesday that the school system met all of the commissioners’ budget deadlines as it negotiated with three unions — for teachers, administrators and other support staff. He also noted the attendance Tuesday of all five school board members, who had to cancel a scheduled meeting retreat to attend the commissioners’ meeting, and several union representatives.
Morgan said, “There seems to be come consternation about some of the things I said last week. I want to apologize if I offended anyone along the way.”
But in weighing the school board’s budget, “I take the due diligence seriously,” he said.
Morgan asked Martirano is there was anything to clarify from last week’s meeting. Martirano said that all questions were answered and repeated, “we did meet every marker.” He said information about negotiated agreements was given to the county commissioners as quickly as possible.
Morgan still pointed out instances of where he requested fiscal information from the school board during the last year and did not receive it.
Martirano disagreed and said all information was provided on such questions as fixed charges on leave payout for employees. “I’m not going to go tit for tat on expectations of elected officials,” Martirano said.
“Very good, let’s cut to the chase here,” Commission President Jack Russell (D) told the commissioners. He asked his colleagues to keep questions “simple and on point.”
After a few more questions, Martirano requested that future commissioner questions be made in writing.
Commissioner Cindy Jones (R) asked if there would be any raises offered to school administrators after July 1. Martirano said there could be realignments, but not “budget allocations.” Those recommendations will be made the board of education on July 10 as scheduled, he said.
Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) thanked the crowd for attending the meeting, which required extra chairs to be sent from the presenters’ section of the meeting room to the rear. “This is the largest participation of any audience I’ve seen so far,” he said, and moved to approve the board of education’s budget. Jarboe told Martirano, “You continue to work hard and I hope we’ll all be nice.”