"When all five of us can hear the same thing, it's very valuable," said Board President B. Marie Byers, who said she has encouraged people who have spoken to her about budgetary concerns to come to the public hearings. "It's just a good form of representative government. I think it makes a difference in our decision making."
Opinions on spending increases and cuts aren't the only form of input, Byers said.
The board also welcomes facts that might help in making budgetary decisions as well as suggestions for alternate ways to boost the school system's income, she said.
Copies of Gersen's budget can be reviewed beforehand at the Board of Education's public information office or the principal's office of any county school. Copies will be available at the door Tuesday night.
Those wishing to speak can register before 4 p.m. Tuesday through Gersen's office or up to 30 minutes before the hearing in the board auditorium.
In order to comply with changes to state requirements, this year's budget features new categories, subcategories and cost centers, Gersen said.
Gersen's proposed budget includes:
- $46.5 million for instructional salaries;
- $2.6 million for administration;
- $7.8 million for mid-level administration;
- $9.7 million for special education;
- $2.2 million for instructional textbooks and supplies;
- $5.2 million for other instructional costs;
- $4.5 million for student transportation services;
- $8.7 million for "operation of plant," including salaries for all custodial, warehouse and school delivery personnel and utilities costs;
- $2.6 million for "maintenance of plant," including salaries for all maintenance personnel, contracted maintenance work, and materials and equipment for in-house projects;
- $15.6 million for fixed charges, including employee benefits;
- $497,000 for student personnel services;
- $145,000 for student health services;
This year's operating budget was just over $96.4 million.
The school board's final budget will be presented to Washington County Commissioners at 7 p.m. March 25 at the Kepler Auditorium at Hagerstown Junior College.
The proposed budget would require the Washington County Commissioners to contribute $55.2 million next year, nearly $8 million more than the county's share this year, according to Gersen.
For more information on the hearing, the public can call 766-2809.