Baltimore school system under-spending budget by $30 million

February 23, 2005|By Laura Loh | Laura Loh,SUN STAFF

Baltimore school officials reported last night that the system has spent $30 million less so far this year than had been budgeted, an announcement that drew criticism from school board members.

Under-spending by various schools and departments has resulted in the unused money, including more than $10 million in school supplies, $6 million in employee salaries and benefits, and $7.5 million in contract services.

The system has spent $392 million compared to $422 million that it had planned to by this time.

Board members said they were upset because they frequently hear from teachers and parents who complain about the need for more supplies and staff.

Board member Diane Bell-McKoy said she was unhappy that internal financial controls did not catch the problem sooner.

"I ought to have heard about this before now," she said.

School officials said they need to research why some administrators did not spend all of the money available to them.

"Nobody is stopping the schools from spending the money, I want to make that clear," said Rose Piedmont, the system's chief financial officer.

Piedmont said that more money was in the budget for supplies this year -- $100 per pupil compared to $85 per pupil last year -- and that may be one reason for unspent funds in that category.

Schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland said top administrative officials will meet today to find the reasons for the under-spending.

"We need to dig deeper," she told the board. "I just don't have the answers for you tonight."

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