Although the state still has not provided final funding numbers for Frederick County Public Schools, the Board of Education unanimously approved the operating budget for Fiscal Year 2021 on Wednesday.
The total operating budget for FY21 is $674.5 million, which is a 5.9 percent increase from the current year.
FCPS Budget Officer Heather Clabaugh said that although state funds are yet to be finalized, it is expected to be approximately $20,000 less than originally anticipated due to a revision they received from the state.
Clabaugh said that loss is expected to be made up through salary savings.
Despite this decrease, however, state funding is still slated to be about $11 million more than last year. This includes about $700,000 from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future — a comprehensive 10-year plan to revamp Maryland’s public schools.
Clabaugh previously said the state technically has a deadline of June 30 to tell school systems how much state funding they will receive, since FY21 begins on July 1.
Clabaugh explained Wednesday that should the final numbers from the state change drastically after the board’s vote, there will be an opportunity to go back to the budget and make necessary changes.
“We have ways to come back to it at a later date if things change through our current ... process that we do several times throughout the year as we get better information as we go along,” Clabaugh said.
Board member Karen Yoho asked how the salary resource pool would be affected since negotiations are still ongoing with the Frederick County Teachers Association.
Clabaugh said if the end result of the negotiations are different than expected, a current expense amendment will be needed to make changes.
“We know that a budget is a best estimate of what we have this minute ... we understand [changes] will happen,” she said.
Before voting, board member Liz Barrett said she was sad to lose so many aspects of the budget this year.
“I really do feel like this was, maybe since I’ve been on the board, one of the first years where I feel like there were priorities in the budget that really got us moving in the equity direction that we want to go, “Barrett said. “Losing the expansion of the RISE program, for example, is probably the most heartbreaking one but there are many others. So, I’m voting for the budget because we have to.”
The RISE program, which stands for Responsive Interventions for Student Excellence, assists students with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities.
FCPS planned to expand the program to middle schools this year, but due to financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, the school board delayed the expansion and removed it from the budget.
Board member Michael Bunitsky echoed Barrett’s comments.
“Hopefully there will be no COVID next year ... it’s the best we can do right now,” he said.