Howard schools budget plan has 0.3% increase

January 07, 2009|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,john.john.williams@baltsun.com

Howard County schools Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin is proposing an operating budget for the coming academic year that he said calls for the smallest increase in his more than two decades with the school system.

Cousin presented the $658.9 million request, which he called "responsive, responsible, and fiscally prudent," to the school board last night.

The proposal represents an increase of $1.9 million - 0.3 percent - over the budget for the current year.

Cousin said the small increase is needed so the school system can keep pace with the growth in student enrollment. This school year, enrollment is 48,918 students, up from 48,571 last year.

The current year's $657 million operating budget is $4 million less than Cousin requested.

The proposal presented last night does not include money for possible increases in employee salaries, which are being negotiated with the system's four unions.

Any money for raises would be added by the board before it passes the budget along to County Executive Ken Ulman in late February.

The superintendent's budget includes funding for 44 new teaching positions; 14 new positions in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program to address the growing population of foreign-born students; and added classes for students preparing to retake the state High School Assessments.

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