(Feb. 19, 2021) The Worcester County Board of Education unanimously approved the school system’s Fiscal Year 2022 proposed operating budget of $118.13 million during the board meeting on Tuesday.
The FY22 budget process began last September, as principals were asked to submit a list of budget priorities for their schools, and a budget meeting seeking public comment was held on Dec. 1, when parent representatives from each school presented their priorities for the coming year. The financial package was reviewed again during a public work session on Feb. 2.
The new budget contains $2 million more than the current $116 million package, said Vince Tolbert, the school system’s chief financial officer. Of that total, 82 percent or $95 million, comes from county appropriations.
Those same percentages would apply to the new budget, Tolbert said, with 82.14 percent, or $97 million, expected from the county.
State aid for next fiscal year’s operating budget totals $20.3 million including a nearly $168,000 increase. Other revenue sources will provide $792,463.
The overall FY22 budget revenue increase is $1.95 million.
Most of the rise in the total amount is because of $1.8 million in salary increases proposed for the next fiscal year.
Another expenditure increase is $225,000 for the second year of a technology upgrade/refresh.
“On Feb. 2 at our work session, it looked like we were going to have to ask for about $315,000 more to maintain those all-day programs at Pocomoke and Showell elementary schools. Over the past couple of weeks, we found out we’re going to be able to bring forward some grant funding from the current year that’s left over and also get some additional grant funding,” Tolbert said.
Current projections for health insurance indicate no increase, but the actual rates will be finalized in May.
The one-time capital requests for FY22 include $139,800 to replace the fire alarm system at Pocomoke Middle School and $156,000 to replace the fire alarm system at Snow Hill Middle School.
The FY 22 operating budget also includes a request for a restricted local grant of $50,000 to maintain funding for Pocomoke Middle School After-School Grant Program.
For the past several years, the county has supported this program, Tolbert said.
“It’s been very successful for the kids down in Pocomoke. It’s an athletics-based program. The kids and the parents love it and want that program to be continued,” he added.
The proposed FY22 total budget summary by category and object of expenditure showed $1.81 million for administration, $8 million for instructional support services, $47.14 million for instructional salaries and wages, $2.73 million for textbooks and instructional supplies and materials, $966,000 for other instructional costs, $11.53 million for special education, $374,000 for student personal services, $1 million for student health services, $7 million for student transportation services, $8.55 million for the operation of the plant, $1.13 million for the maintenance of the plant, $26.43 million in fixed charges and $126,200 in capital planning.
With other requests totaling $1.26 million, including $200,000 for the technology program, $100,000 for capital outlay, $295,800 for school construction and $660,250 for retirement expenses, the proposed FY22 operating budget comes to $118.13 million.
The next step for the budget process is a budget review with the county on March 23, followed by a county budget hearing on May 4. The county is expected to adopt the FY22 budget on June 1 and the board of education will approve the FY22 operating budget on June 15.