(Dec. 7, 2018) Parents and teachers representing the 14 public schools in Worcester County are interested in three things: competitive pay for teachers, small classroom sizes and maintaining or upgrading school equipment and facilities.
These concerns were addressed Tuesday during the public budget meeting held at the Board of Education central office, where the background of the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget was also explained.
The budget showed Worcester County has the highest percentage of wealth per pupil in all 23 counties as based on the total value of the county’s taxable real property as compared to its student population. That, however, means the county receives the lowest amount of state aid at $3,029.
“Our school system continues to be totally dependent on our county commissioners for resources for our school system,” Chief Financial Officer Vince Tolbert said. “They provide over 77 percent of the funding, the state kicks in 17.5 percent, and about five percent comes from federal sources. In Wicomico and Somerset, our neighboring counties, that’s flipped.”
The operating budget is set at $106.3 million this year, with 85.1 percent allocated for salaries, one of the primary concerns of members of the audience who listened in on the meeting.
Members of the school improvement advisory committee, comprised of teachers, support staff, school administration, parents/guardians and community members, presented their school’s budget priorities for the following year.
For all 14 SIAC representatives, besides increasing teachers’ salaries, maintaining small class sizes and providing necessary repairs and upgrades were high on the priority list for next year.
The Buckingham Elementary School representative also suggested building a new school, as the current facility is aging.
The FY2020 budge is projected to increase by $2.5 million, but its final number remains a decision of the Worcester County Commissioners, with an appearance before them the final step each year in the school budget process.