So, here we are again at budget time. The proposed operating budget was released last week and the proposed amount is $162m. This is down from $163.5m last year. The commissioner’s plan also called for CCPS to use $4m of its fund balance to make up the difference.
CCPS, through careful spending and continual searching for cost savings, does not spend 1-2% of its budget each year. That’s analogous to a person earning $50,000 saving $500 to $1,000 per year.
Over the years, the fund has grown. The school system has used it sparingly for non-recurring expenses. This year, it will be using it for bonuses for school system employees, who have been continually short-changed over the past years. While we would prefer raises be given rather than bonuses, we recognize the conditions requiring this.
This year, the county wants the school system to use fund balance for the operating budget, ie. ongoing expenses. And, there are no plans to increase funding next year. In fact, 2016 is even lower! There won’t be $4m left in fund balance next year to make up the difference.
Last week, the county sent out the schedule of the proposed budget meetings, but it didn’t give us the dates that are most important. The public hearing dates are AFTER the budget deals have been made. We need to let our commissioners know their ridiculous plan is not going to fly BEFORE that. Like, now! Start writing emails. Pick a meeting with public comment and show up. Your comment doesn’t have to be long, or profound. One hundred people making the effort to tell them to fund the schools properly is more effective than the same half-dozen people writing the same message every year.
We at Carroll Values Education are planning some ways to get our voices heard. We think that handing out tax cuts for four years in a row and starting a fund for home and private school families while gutting CCPS is NOT an effective re-election strategy; it appeals only to their loudest supporters. But this election, it won’t be just their supporters who make it to the polls on primary day!