Dance's Operating Budget Highlights Population Growth, Curriculum Changes
The school system superintendent is requesting a $1.3 billion operating budget—a $41.9 million increase from the previous year.
School system Superintendent Dallas Dance said much of his $1.3 billion fiscal year budget request is intended to fund the manpower needed to accommodate projected student population growth and curriculum changes.
"Eighty-five percent [of the budget] will go toward people," Dance said.
The request, which is a $41.9 million or 3.3 percent increase from the fiscal year 2013 request, was presented to the Board of Education during a Tuesday night meeting. The board will vote on the budget to present to county officials on February 5.
The operating budget request is the first for Dance, who started his tenure in July 2012.
Schools officials said at a Tuesday afternoon press briefing that they are anticipating more than 6,200 additional students to enroll in county school over the next five years, including approximately 1,400 in the upcoming academic year. Enrollment for the current school year is 107,033.
The most recent figures from the school system show that the education cost per student in Baltimore County was $12,987, versus a state average of $13,297, in fiscal year 2010.
To manage the growth, Dance said he intends to add about 100 teaching positions to the existing 8,792, and six guidance counselor positions to the existing 269—if budget requests are met. It's still being determined where those staff members would be based.
The superintendent said only two new administrators would be hired, both for the office of safety and security. That department is headed by Dale Rauenzahn, a 36-year school system employee who was appointed executive director in October 2012.
In total, $1,109,987,184 would go toward salaries and wages of school system staff.
Funds would also be dedicated to transitioning to the Common Core State Standards, updating to a "digitized" curriculum and reducing achievement gaps, Dance said.
"Because Baltimore County is such a diverse county—there are great schools in our county, there are schools that need improvement," he said. "So we have to make sure we're closing the achievement gap but not bringing schools down."
A breakdown of the budget provided by school officials shows that, employee pay aside, $10,319,643 of the budget request would go toward equipment, $45,802,603 for supplies and materials, $77,077,663 for contracted services and $80,918,475 for other charges.
The budget can be seen in greater detail on the Baltimore County Public Schools website.
School officials said the request reflects maintenance of effort as required by state law.
The Board of Education approved the superintendent's approximately $72 million capital budget request, which was notable for requesting funding for air conditioning infrastructure at county schools, in October 2012. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Monday that school construction is one of his priorities for the 2013 General Assembly.
A public hearing for the operating budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at West Towson Elementary School.