The St. Mary’s school system’s final fiscal 2021 budget of $231.1 million supports IT, transportation and the education association’s negotiated agreement.
Tammy McCourt, assistant superintendent of fiscal services and human resources, gave school board members a summary of the budget process Wednesday. It had shrunk by $3.5 million since earlier in the budget season.
The school system started with a $234.6 million proposed budget in January. That was when they wanted $113.9 from the county, another $2 million from the commissioners’ fund balance and to fund dozens of new full-time employees.
In February, the budget proposal dropped to $232.6 million after the state gave $111.4 million instead of the expected $113.1 million. That pushed the school system to cut positions, like security assistants and a special education worker.
“Unfortunately, the budget submitted was not supported,” McCourt said on Wednesday.
School officials discussed the $109.9 million the commissioners gave them in local funding during an April board meeting. As a result, they cut 27.6 new positions. However, McCourt said they were able to add $5.9 million from the fund balance, which gave them a proposed budget of $231.6 million at the time.
A few more changes were made since then, including when the school system essentially returned $400,000 to the commissioners last week to help meet its budget goals. They also learned money from the state would be about $234,000 less than expected “as of this time,” McCourt said.
Through its multiple adjustments, the school system was still able to support a four-year negotiated agreement for school employees that would cost more than $18 million, transportation needs that gives contracted bus drives and assistants more money, and upgrades in technology.
That leaves them with a $231,070,606 approved final fiscal 2021 budget — nearly $9 million more than current fiscal year.
Board member Mary Washington said the information technology upgrades are much needed.
“We don’t know exactly what the future holds but we know that technology is going to be a key piece in it,” she said.
Cathy Allen, vice chair of the school board, thanked McCourt for her presentation, and also voiced a concern.
“I think it is somewhat aggravating and distressing that in this point and time [Maryland State Department of Education] still hasn’t given us final numbers as to what we can expect and yet we have to go forward with this budget,” said.