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Board Of Ed Pushes For More Funding For Fiscal Year 2014

Board Of Ed Pushes For More Funding For Fiscal Year 2014

 

The consequences of flat funding for the Frederick County School System were discussed Tuesday during a Board of Education and Commissioners' meeting. Members tried to convince the Commissioners that maintenance of effort means fewer staff to carry out the Frederick County Public Schools' mission to educate children. "We are truly at a tipping point in terms of some of the staffing  because we've been cutting budget, thinking we can make it on the staffing level. It's turning out that we're not," said Board of Ed President Joy Schaefer.

She said flat funding means not enough for Pre-K and special education. And right now, says Schaefer, it's affecting the work of school psychologists. "There is crisis mode in terms of what they're taking care of," she says. "It doesn't allow them to fulfill their potential of doing things that are more restorative for students, as well as preventative." Schaefer says psychologist now intervene mostly for crises.  Right now, there is one psychologist serving four schools. 

This was an attempt to try to persuade the County Commissioners to increase funding for the school system, which has been living under maintenance of effort for several years.  But BoCC President Blaine Young said there are other agencies which are requesting additional funding,and county has a $5-and-a-half-million-dollar deficit. He says the Sheriff is asking for money to hire 17 new deputies now that the State Police are reducing the number of troopers in the county. "You've had our chief of the fire service request ten additional firemen. We have FCC {Frederick Community College} request $300,000 in additional revenue," he says. In addition, says Young, Highway Operations busted its snow-removal budget, and the county needs to find the money to pay for that.

Last month, the Board of Education submitted a budget request for fiscal year 2015 totaling 8-million, which is 3.1% over the current spending plan. The Commissioners have said the school system will only get maintenance of effort funding, which keeps appropriations at the same percentage as the current spending plan.

Commissioner Young said a county budget will be presented on April 3rd. "The Board of County Commissioners will be open to presentations from any Commissioner who wants to change the budget, in terms of making reductions and cuts to fund something  else, and/or to make a proposal to raise property taxes," he said.

In a related issue, the Board of Education announced that it will seek to move construction funding up for a new Urbana area elementary school, and West Frederick City area elementary school in the Capital Improvements Program.

The Board of Ed and the Commissioners also heard an update on a proposed site for a new east county high school. The developer of Monrovia Town Center is offering a 79-acre parcel across from Green Valley Elementary School near the Routes 80 and 75 intersection.

The property is also near a 500 kilovolt  power line. Executive Director of Facilities Services, Ray Barnes, says he checked on any state regulations regarding the placement of schools near power lines. "We found none in Maryland is how the school site could be laid out with respect to the power line," he says. But Barnes noted that the school is not expected to be constructed for many years, and regulations could change before that.

Citizen Mimi Riez said this is not a good site for a school, and the Board of Education needs to look for another location. She called this a developer's "leftover" which he didn't plan to develop to begin with. "He's not going to have a very easy time selling homes right next to those power lines," Riaz said. "My children, and everyone's children in the county, have the right to go to a proper, viable school site. And the time is now, now, to make a decision on it."

 

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