School board adopts budget increase

But $984.4 million figure unlikely to pass muster with County Council, Leopold

February 21, 2010|By Nicole Fuller | nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education has adopted a recommended $984.4 million operating budget for fiscal year 2011 that provides pay increases for all system employees and funds the expansion of a charter school while cutting $3.6 million in funding for performance stipends, signing bonuses and classroom supplies for teachers.

The board's requested operating budget, adopted at its meeting Wednesday, is about $48 million more than what was granted last year and falls mostly in line with what Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell had proposed.

"While this is a budget that doesn't provide for everything he would like, he certainly feels it's a responsible budget," said Bob Mosier, a spokesman for Maxwell.

The budget adoption, which passed in an 8-1 vote, will be forwarded to the County Council and County Executive John R. Leopold for final approval. Leopold officials have said the county's $93 million shortfall makes it almost certain that the county will fund schools using the state's maintenance-of-effort provision, which requires just the same level of funding as the previous year.

Because of an increase in state revenue tied to increasing enrollment, the board granted a 1 percent cost-of-living increase in pay for all employees except members of the Association of Educational Leaders. Those employees will receive a 6 percent cost-of-living increase.

But to help fund the cost-of-living increases, the board cut $1.9 million in adequate yearly progress assignment and performance stipends; $610,000 to provide $100 for each classroom teacher for supplies; and $107,650 for teacher signing bonuses. The reductions were agreed upon through union negotiations.

The budget also includes $3.1 million for Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School to expand to ninth grade in the fall.

For the second consecutive year, the recommended operating budget adopted by the board contains no new positions. Maxwell introduced in December his suggested $981 million operating budget, which contains no new funding for educational programming or new staffing, and will cause an increase in class sizes.

The board also unanimously approved a $177.3 million capital budget that contains $100 million for the study, design or construction at 16 schools, including the restoration of funding for projects at eight schools eliminated from the Capital Improvement Plan by the county executive last year. The budget also includes $11 million for construction of full-day kindergarten additions and $8 million to continue enclosing open space classrooms in schools across the county.

Also at the meeting, the board voted unanimously to reappoint Maxwell to another four-year term as superintendent of the state's fifth-largest school system. Maxwell, a former administrator in Montgomery County, has been superintendent since July 2006. He is the first superintendent in Anne Arundel to be appointed to a second term since Carol Parham in 1998.

"I think today's vote shows that this board is very pleased with the direction that Dr. Maxwell is leading our system, and we want to continue to work together to make great things happen in Anne Arundel County," said board President Ned Carey.

The board and Maxwell will now begin contract negotiations. Maxwell currently earns $238,703 annually.

Maxwell has been credited with increasing the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes, expanding the school system's signature and magnet programs, and narrowing the achievement gap.

"This has been a real partnership over the last four years," Maxwell said in a statement. "We talk a lot about our 'Journey to Greatness,' and I believe we are well on our way. I look forward to at least four more years of working with this board and the incredible employees, parents, students, and community groups we are so privileged to have in our county."

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