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School board approves draft budget of $176.6 million

February 23, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Board of Education voted 6-0 on Tuesday night to adopt the staff's recommended operating budget of $176.6 million as a draft budget to take to public hearing at 5 p.m. next Tuesday.

No substantial changes were made to the budget, which the board discussed last week during a work session.

Board member Roxanne R. Ober said the Finance Committee, which she chairs, met Tuesday morning to discuss the operating budget. The committee decided to recommend the board add $200,000 to the fiscal 2005-06 capital improvements budget - a separate budget - for a stadium at North Hagerstown High School.

The draft operating budget is $19.6 million more than the current fiscal year's $157 million operating budget. That increase includes a $15.8 million increase in revenue from the state.

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Because the state is "finally stepping up to the plate," Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said the board is asking the commissioners for an increase over last year of $3.8 million to fund the state-mandated "maintenance of effort" to increase money for additional enrollment and more school buses. The county is contributing $77.9 million to the board's current operating budget.

There are 96.5 new positions in the operating budget, of which Morgan said she considers only four to be administrative.

The four are a facility planner, a high school assistant principal for Hancock Middle-Senior High School, a special education supervisor and a director of information systems and instructional technology, Morgan said after the meeting.

The school system eliminated the technology director position in the fiscal 2002-03 budget in favor of hiring consultants to develop programs, Morgan said. The consultants were cost effective and gave the board flexibility in hiring people with different expertise, she said.

Now those programs need to be managed, hence the upgrade of an existing position to director, Morgan said. The additional cost is $30,000.

Morgan said approximately 80 percent of the new positions are instructional.

Board member W. Edward Forrest was absent because he was representing the board at a Maryland State Department of Education function, board President Paul W. Bailey said.

After next Tuesday's public hearing the board, during its 6:30 p.m. business meeting, will vote on whether to adopt a proposed fiscal 2005-06 operating budget to present to the Washington County Commissioners.

The board will present a proposed operating budget to the commissioners at 7 p.m. on March 8 in Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.

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