2010-2015 operating budgets for FCPS recalculated with cumulative compounded inflation rate

2010-2015 operating budgets for FCPS recalculated with cumulative compounded inflation rate

The maintenance-of-effort budget was initiated in fiscal 2010-2011 and continued through fiscal 2014-2015, when County Executive Jan Gardner and the County Council reversed the trend. Thus, the fiscal 2009-2010 budget was the anchor year for the subsequent five future budgets, with adjustments for the number of students.

For the fiscal 2015-2016 budget, Frederick County Public Schools received $4.1 million above MoE from the county, however, this was largely offset by the denial of Geographical Cost of Education Index, or GCEI funds by the state. Thus, notwithstanding county government’s effort to increase the budget beyond MoE, the denial of the GCEI funds by the state resulted in FCPS’ budget remaining, more or less, at MoE levels.

The term “maintenance of effort” is misleading, because anchoring a budget to a particular year is in that year’s dollar number and not in dollar value. In other words, in none of the subsequent years were adequate funds provided to sustain education efforts at the level of the previous year or the anchor year (2009) level, adjusted for inflation. The decreased value of the dollar due to inflation necessitated decreased effort applied to academics for each of the six years.

The attached table provides the actual depreciated value of budgets for the six years. The inflation rate is compounded, because the impact of the inflation rate for a given year persists in the future year and the impact of each year of the school budget is linked to the following year. Thus, if in a particular year, say for the sixth grade, textbook purchases had to be changed, that cost shows up the next year for students graduating from the fifth grade.

Some of this depreciation was offset by not providing pay increases to teachers and other staff, not setting aside sufficient funds for OPEB (other post-employment benefits for retired employees), and savings in utilities, etc. On the negative side, the deficit was made worse by the increased cost of health care insurance. Another area of savings was with the retirement of senior teachers and their replacement with lower-paid new recruits. However, this was a major negative for education, replacing highly qualified, experienced teacher with just-graduated candidates. It should be noted that the realties of the budget have kept FCPS teacher salaries in uncompetitive ranges. The salaries of the new recruits to FCPS ranks 24th out of 24 school districts in Maryland.

The cumulative deficit is taking its toll. The BoE has had to make drastic cuts in its original proposed budget for each of the past six years, resulting in cuts in important categories, such as textbooks and not contributing adequately to fund OPEB.

To balance the budget for fiscal 2015-2016, the BoE increased the class size by one student across all schools, resulting in a reduction to the number of teachers in every school, and providing savings of $5.2 million. This reduction in number of teachers has resulted in overcrowded classrooms, increased workloads for teachers, and a shortfall of resources.

Another adverse impact of this strategy is felt in high schools with the unavailability of classes in certain subject areas, such as music, or an inadequate availability of electives, such as Advanced Placement courses. Another unintended consequence of this approach has been that smaller and medium-sized high schools (Brunswick, Catoctin, Middletown and Walkersville) have paid a higher price because they have less capacity to compensate and adjust their academic schedules.

The current FCPS budget request is being considered and should be evaluated against this backdrop. It is likely that some accountants may find some discrepancies in the table I have provided. However, I’m attempting to provide the overall trend of FCPS budget depreciation over the past six years and its pernicious impact on education of our children.

Zakir Bengali

is a member of the Frederick County Board of Education. He writes from Frederick.

(30) comments

Quisling

Keeping property taxes as low as possible is the most important issue here, not increasing the FCPS budget.

jerseygrl42

Mr. B. the way you presented the info appears to be worst case but the issue that needs to be looked at in why only 25% of the budget is actually spent on the teachers ...where is the 75% going and there never seems to be an explanation forthcoming. Also simply spending more money doesn't necessarily bring the desired results and a perfect example is available in Baltimore which is the 6th HIGHEST spending school district per student in the nation....and the results are incredibly poor for a variety of reasons

phydeaux994

The 2017 Proposed School Budget can be found online. The budget is broken down into 15 separate categories explaining how the money is allocated. The instructional (teachers salaries and benefits) portion of the budget is 37%.

phydeaux994

http://www.fcps.org/about/FY2017-Budget.cfm

bosco

What would the FCPS budget be if non-citizens were not provided a free education at our expense?

KellyAlzan

pretty sure the percentage of non-citizen students in the schools are very low. making a moot issue.

Now - parents of "non-citizen" students is a different story.

See, The parents come here illegally. They give birth here. So their kids are legal US citizens.

shiftless88

There are a lot of non-citizens legally in this country who pay taxes just like you and me

DickD

Good question, I once estimated, based on total numbers and percentages that we have about 1,000 illegals in Frederick County. Of course that is just a ball park estimate, but if you took the per pupil cost and multiplied it by 1,000, you should be close.

Burgessdr

Thanks for sharing. If your study of illegals is true, that is very very good news indeed. The numbers of illegals in the US has been estimated at 3.4% Your knowledgeable estimate of 1,000 in a county of 250,000 puts Fredericks percentage at just 0.4% or TEN TIMES LOWER than the national average. Glad to hear that your knowledge and expertise shows unequivocally that illegal immigrants in Frederick is definetly not a problem.

DickD

Your conclusion is not what I said or meant.

JamusWilson

I would agree 100% with you, if the money went to the teachers and filtered down to the students. But at FCPS the Money does not go to keeping teachers or to student needs. The money goes to hiring more Administrative Staff and building offices space at east street. like the new Diversity Group and offices. Thats was 4 teachers they could have hired. and the money to build their offices could have been spent to repair school. So no more money for FCPS until we get a full accounting of where it is going to be spent. Don't forget they pay one million dollars a year out of their operating budget for rent at east street. How many teachers salaries would that have paid for.

DeDeuceCoupe32

When put tp the test FCPS gets an F on money management. Eliminating the entire sports program is a no-brainer unless you are a jock parent. Look at pro athletes. They are killers, spouse abusers, law breakers, druggies, you name it, they do it. FCPS chooses to cut music and arts because those parents aren't as aggressive. Musicians are more of the hippy druggy type. They are more prone to hurt themselves then their competition. I expect "the wall of knowledge" aka DickD will disagree lol.

DickD

Thank you for the disparaging remark, but the evidence shows the best academics need more than just a classroom. If you did research, you would not just be sarcastic.

public-redux

"They are killers, spouse abusers, law breakers, druggies..."

"Some, I assume, are good people." D. Trump, 2015

tonyc51

Not everyone believes that the only solution to improving the schools in Frederick County involves spending more (or even MOE). The issue takes a little more thought than a calculation of inflation. Maybe that is why this person did not advance through the primary.

sevenstones1000

So, tony, you beleive that spending less money on schools will lead to their improvement? Can you point to any case where that has actually happened? What do you think is the optimal budget, how much less should we spend on our children to see this improvement you speak of?

hayduke2

Tony - easy to say but what exactly would you suggest to "improve" the schools? As far as advancing, maybe one should look at the process and allow independents to have a say in the process - we are, after all, supposed to be a democracy where everyone has a vote.

JamusWilson

Thats an easy one, cut 1/2 of the administrators making over 100,000 dollars and hire teachers. That's a no brainer.

hayduke2

Really ? A bit simplistic and unrealistic.

pamona

Independents did have a say - I am not affiliated with either party and I did vote in the primary for school board members.

That said, primaries are for the political parties to choose who they want to run. Political parties are not democracies. (And in reality, neither is this country which is a republic - not quite the same as a democracy.)

DickD

The evidence all points to the most money gets the best education. MOE is nothing more than a Republican ploy to destroy the public schools.

JamusWilson

You are showing your complete ignorance of the subject. Washington DC pays more per pupil on education than any surrounding school system and has the lowest test scores in the region.

shiftless88

That's a red herring comparing one demographic to another. What you need to show is that decreasing a budget increases performance in a given school district.

DickD

And you have displayed your lack of knowledge as D.C. does not have the best schools or the highest costs, unless you look at just the adjacent states. That goes to some northeastern states, that pay much more than we do. U.S. News reports Maryland had the most gold and silver medals, Connecticut was second.

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/how-states-compare
"The gold and silver awards reflect which schools are most successfully preparing students for college, based on students participating in and achieving passing scores on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests. For a school to be eligible for a gold or silver medal, its students must also do well on the appropriate statewide tests and graduate at high rates, as explained in the rankings methodology."

Only 36 states and the District of Columbia had at least one school that earned a gold medal, and four of those had only one such school within their borders.
Expenditures per student can be found at:

http://www.nea.org/assets/img/content/NEA_Rankings_And_Estimates-2013_(2).pdf

http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/public-education-costs-per-pupil-by-state-rankings/
Costs per student by state
Public education by state rankings show that New York spent the most per pupil at $19,552. The next top five are District of Columbia ($17,468), Alaska ($17,390), New Jersey ($17,266), Connecticut ($16,274) and Vermont ($16,040).

The states spending the least on a per-pupil basis in 2012 are Mississippi ($8,164), Idaho ($7,659), Arizona ($7,559), Oklahoma ($7,466) and Utah ($6,206).

hayduke2

Perhaps the demograhics of the student population figures in. You think?

JamusWilson

I love how you liberals constantly cry about school funding. Giving example after example of states with poor school funding and how it affects learning. But as soon as anyone produces a school district that pays one of the highest rates per student for learning. Then all of a sudden that Apples and oranges. You can't have it both ways.
It's amazing that someone who sat on the board for 4 years, never ever questioned where the money was going or why they were adding administrators while letting great teachers go. Sorry but you did not do your job which is to make sure that students get a great education and that the taxpayers are protected. He did neither.

Dwasserba

On the other hand, Dr. Bengali put all this thought into it and composed an informative letter while no longer a Board member. That's class. I voted for him but they only let me vote once. Rats.

DickD

A good man, no doubt.

dtwigg

Why in the world didn't voters keep this intelligent, thoughtful and fair man on the BOE? I get the sense that he wasn't re-elected because of his vote on 9th-grade sports. He made a decision and voted based on economics and he is punished by the electorate. The BOE will be losing a valuable member.

sevenstones1000

I agree dtwigg. Frederick seems to respond well to bloviating and slogans unsupported by anything but wishful thinking. Asking them to look at actual facts is sooo boring.

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