School board approves $194.7 million draft budget

February 01, 2006|by KAREN HANNA


A $194.7 million draft budget for Washington County Public Schools includes spending for increased energy costs and deferred maintenance projects, two new elementary school magnet programs, expanded interventions and transportation for students involved in after-school activities.

The Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve the draft budget for fiscal year 2007, which includes spending increases of more than $18 million. A public hearing on the document, which could undergo revisions before being presented to the County Commissioners in the spring, is set for 6 p.m. Monday.

The budget approved Tuesday requests a funding increase from the County Commissioners of about State revenues would increase from $94.8 million to $110.5 million, according to the document. One of the biggest line-item areas of increase - $6.5 million - is for employee raises.


Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Patricia Abernethy told the board that the spending increases will support the system's transition from half-day kindergarten classes to full-day kindergarten classes and pay for expansion of the instrumental program. Money also would be used to add an occupational therapist and hire special education teachers with expertise in specific academic areas to help high school students prepare for state testing, Abernethy said.

The budget also includes money for more than 30 new teaching positions, including 4 1/2 positions for gifted and talented teachers.

Two programs similar to the magnet programs at Fountaindale and Emma K. Doub elementary schools also are included in the budget, Director of Funded and Special Programs Roger Giles said.

The school system has received more than 100 applications from parents interested in enrolling their children in the current programs, and Giles said planning for programs at Williamsport and Boonsboro elementary schools will start with the understanding that implementation depends on the County Commissioners' approval of the final budget.

The programs would be open to students in grades two through five, though Giles said Tuesday he is not sure whether the classes for the oldest children would start next year. The focus of the two new programs has not been determined, he said.

According to Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, the school system has devoted its greatest resources to the classroom, and it has worked to maintain low class sizes in the elementary schools.

"I think this budget continues to put the lion's share of our resources into schools," Morgan said.

According to Chief Operating Officer G. William Blum, $1.6 million of the budget increases will go toward energy costs, which have gone up 78 percent over the last three years. The budget includes nine bus driver positions, he said.

The county's appropriations for schools have increased about $3 million a year over the past few years, according to information provided by the school system. The state's increases have ranged from about $8 million to about $16 million over the same time period.

According to the school system's budget calendar, the proposed budget will be presented to the County Commissioners in March.

Board of Education draft budget for fiscal year 2007

The Washington County Board of Education's draft operating budget for fiscal year 2007 totals $194,700,415. It includes $83,486,119 from the County Commissioners and $110,503,942 from the state.

Some items in the budget are:

  • $6,572,346 for salary increases

  • More than 30 new teaching positions

  • Fourteen new buses

  • Nine new bus drivers

  • Three new maintenance workers
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