- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The school board is considering officially ending its budget advisory committee, which at one point offered parents a chance to compare wants and needs across the school system.
The committee, which included a parent representative from each St. Mary’s public school, would meet several times throughout the school year to hash out budgetary needs. A budget advisory committee had not been formed for about the last five years, Superintendent Michael Martirano said.
The board of education this week has labeled for deletion a policy that outlines the establishment and purpose of the committee. A public hearing on the policy deletion, along with deletions or changes to other finance policies, is scheduled for the next school board meeting on Aug. 28.
Martirano said the committee served a better purpose when there was more school-based management over budget decisions. The central office is now much more involved in how funds are doled out in order to provide more equity.
Martirano said as the budget got tighter, particularly during the recession, there was very little discretionary spending available. So, he said, as the budget advisory committee suggested millions of dollars in wanted or needed resources, “the majority of that was never advanced.”
He said there are still other ways for parents to stay engaged with schools and the budget, including through parent organizations and at budget hearings.
James Tomasic, who ran for the school board twice but was not elected, said he had found great value in the budget advisory committees when he was a member.
“A lot of us disagreed” when the school board ended the committee several years ago, he said.
He said it offered parents a good opportunity to discuss potentially systemic issues involving multiple schools and hear of ways that a school was able to solve a particular problem.
School board member Marilyn Crosby, who at one point was a member of the budget advisory committee before being elected to the school board, said she thinks the committee will be officially done away with.
“I kind of missed it at first, because it really taught me about [school] budgets,” Crosby said Thursday.
She said when she was on the committee, members were told to look at the needs of the whole school system, not just individual schools.
“They would come up with so many things, it was unbelievable,” she said.
Most other county school systems in Maryland do not have similar committees, according to Martirano.
“We do get plenty of budget input,” Crosby said.