Several options were presented to the Frederick County school board Wednesday that would eliminate the $15 million gap that still exists for the upcoming budget.

After receiving only $7 million above maintenance of effort, instead of the requested $28 million from the county, FCPS staff and the board have been tasked with prioritizing immediate needs over long-term wants in order to present a balanced book. Superintendent Terry Alban introduced a $683 million budget in January.

There are 68 suggestions by FCPS staff to help close the budgetary gap, including a reduction in special education and English language teachers that were going to be hired for the new school year and the removal of the request to fund a reduction in class size in kindergarten through eighth-grade schools.

Other recommendations include not hiring lunchroom monitors for elementary and middle schools and delaying the implementation of the RISE program in middle schools. The RISE program, which stands for Responsive Interventions for Student Excellence, assists students with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities.

“I hope that the board and the public does not think this was an easy exercise at all ... This took weeks and weeks and many iterations to get to this point and none of them were easy,” FCPS Chief Financial Officer Leslie Pellegrino told the board. “Unfortunately, due to the financial situation, we had to put together something to help you as you embark on trying to balance this budget.”

How much funding the school system will receive from the state is still uncertain and Pellegrino said FCPS has been advised to proceed with the estimated number they received from the state in January.

The school system is also planning to submit an application to receive funding from the CARES Act, known as the federal government’s coronavirus relief fund, which has a specific section devoted to elementary and secondary schools.

If approved, FCPS is expected to receive about $4 million. Pellegrino said those funds would be used to help with recovery from COVID-19.

“There could be things like additional supplemental hours for our teachers if we need to provide tutoring or summer support for our students who have fallen behind,” Pellegrino said. “There’s also potential for using that money for cleaning supplies or any type of medical supplies we may have to purchase for the fall.”

Pellegrino also informed board members that the county executive has proposed an additional $2 million in “tech funding” to help with the replacement of student Chromebooks, many of which will have to either be refreshed or replaced after students finish using them for distance learning at the end of this academic year.

The County Council will vote next week on the additional funding as well as the current proposed FCPS budget.

The budget will then return to the Board of Education which will discuss and finalize any amendments to the budget at its next meeting on May 27.

The school board was scheduled to vote and approve the final version of the budget at its June 10 meeting, however FCPS staff has requested the board delay that vote until its second meeting in June due to the uncertainty on funding from the state.

Once the budget is approved, funding will begin to be distributed on July 1.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill

(6) comments

HappySeller2014

Interest rates at multigenerational lows.

Refinance loan on new downtown Frederick FCPS central administration office building?

HappySeller2014

This should not be hard for Leslie Pelligrino.

I hope she is keeping a ledger off to the side of the daily savings that are, and will continue for some time, to accrue with all FCPS facilities barely being used and school transportation nonexistant. This information should be made available to any Frederick County taxpayer or citizen, upon FOIA request.

All I hear it cut, cut, cut and complaining. How about some program monitoring, cost auditing, and then some budgetary transferring and reprogramming?

I guarantee everyone at least $15M in cost savings will accrue within FCPS due to schools closing in mid-March 2020 and remaining closed.

And, add to my list below cleaning supplies and janatorial support. Those costs should have evaporated with no children in classrooms or roaming the halls.

Give me 24 hours and I can come up with at least a dozen more budget lines that will show cost savings this school year due to the COVID-19 disruption...

HappySeller2014

FCPS should have a huge amount of unused carryover funds since the beginning of March 2020 to carry into future year budgets to more than cover any expected shortfalls.

(1) Huge savings on gas and bus maintenance. Major budget expense has disappeared. They have been parked for months and will continue to be parked.

(2) Many hourly workers released I assume. No costs for crossing guards, bus drivers, school cafeteria folks, etc.

(3) No trash pickup costs. Reduced maintenance costs as kids not using schools now.

(4) Should have reduced energy costs, especially lowered electricity costs.

(5) Should have reduced supplies costs. Kids not using anything except take-home chromebooks.

(6) Looks like no summer school costs in any facilities. All activity and sports-related costs FCPS-wide have been zeroed out.

(7) Should be massive food cost savings, even with food being handed out by FCPS at various locations countywide.

This "shortfall" is nowhere near as big as it sounds. Sounds scary, but FCPS is currently foregoing many daily costs now, so available funding can easily roll into future operating budgets.

steelersfan2005

With all the school buildings closed, they should have saved money.

butterflygirl

Different budget year.

HappySeller2014

So? Rollover unused programatic funding.

As an individual, ever skipped or missed a summer vacation due to sickness, death in the family, work-related requirements or simply bad weather or last minute changes? Just more money to dump into the following year's vacation, if you are smart and do not blow it on beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

Same theory here. Just FCPS funding is being discussed, not my personal wallet or your personal purse.

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