Revisiting 2020 Howard County Budget

I spent some time tonight and examined 2020 Howard County Operating Budget, including HCPSS, Howard Community College and others. Only HCPSS and HCC have a separate budget. Others are inside the county budget book. I would encourage our residents spending some time to read them. It will help us where to advocate and how to advocate. For example, maybe the county can have a different funding priority considering the problem HCPSS is facing now. Many parents come to Howard County for education and we should not let them lose faith in HCPSS.

Here is the FY 2020 approved Howard County Operating Budget.

Here is the FY 2020 approved HCPSS Operating budget

Here is the FY 2020 approved Howard Community College Operating budget.

HCPSS parochial bus issue

The board approved to keep the parochial bus in the budget and sent it to the county executive. This budget is a separate line item. We could not just move it to another area and spend it.

I have asked our staff to have a cost-benefit analysis for this. For example, if the buses are cancelled, how many students who are attending private schools will come back to HCPSS? How many students have a special need? Which schools will they attend? How much money does HCPSS spend? This 800k spending will probably come back for discussion when the county executive sends us back the budget.

Attached please see the a State Law passed in 1943. It says:

The attached file includes both texts and a letter from Attorney General of MD in 1995.

Comments on BOE budget discussion

HCPSS is asking 7.2% funding increase from last year’s budget, plus one time funding (6 million) request to narrow down the historical health fund deficit from the county government.

HCPSS is at the receiving end of the budget. With limited money allocated into HCPSS and the high possibility that the county may not fund this 7.2% funding increase request, we have to juggle around different programs and different priorities. If HCPSS does not get this number or get a substantially lower percentage than the request, further proposed changes of HCPSS program will happen, painfully and unfortunately. 

The board has received many emails about “do not cut”. Parents do not  like class size increase. They want to have special education fully funded,  and have our GT programs and music programs enhanced. I also think we should hire more teachers, paraeducators, counselors, ,psychologists, nurses, health assistants, etc., to support our students and our teachers and staff. And we should have more liaisons to support our parents to connect with the school. There is a long list with many wants. 

However, it is extremely difficult to find a balance among so many priorities in the school. It may have negative consequences on some of students, teachers or staff. For example, increasing class size will bring more pressure to the classroom. Reshaping some programs may impact some staff. 

If any program changes have to happen, I will focus on the programs which are relatively easier to be restored if more funding becomes available. For example, class size change can be restored if the money comes. It happened last year. Surplassing teachers or cutting programs should be the last resort. I will continue to ask to streamline our central office and consolidate services to reduce cost. I want to put our resources in the classroom while maintaining a functional school system. 

However, the reality is very challenging. Because of many years’ underfunding for HCPSS, we are at a crossroad to keep a prestigious HCPSS education system. The whole county needs to  work together, and re-orient county priority and put more resources into the school system. 

Parents, please do your best to advocate on behalf of our kids’ education at the county government budget session and the county council budget session. 

Elected county officials, please examine the county budget and see where some county programs can be scaled back at this difficult time and have the fund repurposed to HCPSS. 

Thank you. 

County Executive 2021 budget Public Hearing

Time: Thursday, March 12, 2020

County Executive will submit Proposed Budget to County Council on April 20, 2020. This is a critical date for HCPSS FY 2021 operating budget.

County Council 2021 budget public hearing

Wednesday, April 22, 2020,

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Monday, May 11, 2020

The County Council will adapt their budget on Friday, May 22, 2020.

The Board of Education will adopt the budget on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

HCPSS Health fund deficit elimination plan in action

I am glad that we now have a plan to eliminate the health fund deficit by 2024. HCPSS and the county government are working together to address this historical health fund deficit. We need execute this elimination plan truthfully. We need make sure we are not adding extra deficit into the current health fund each year. Here are two documents: one from the county executive and one from HCPSS.

2020 OBRC Presentation before the BOE

Here is the BOE operating budget review committee (OBRC) recommendation on the budget and others. Four recommendations by a majority vote:

The OBRC would like the Board to review the HCPSS plan that will address the cost of deferred maintenance (FY18, 19 & 20 OBRC recommendations).

The OBRC recommends that the Board of Education direct HCPSS to use an independent, third party consultant to identify and analyze options and alternative health fund plans used by other school systems, including school systems in Maryland. These options and alternatives should include potential cost savings that HCPSS may wish to consider

OBRC made a motion to elevate from the OBRC FY20 list of recommendations. ‘Develop a formula to finance BSAP, Hispanic Achievement and International Student Support based on Maintenance of Effort’.

OBRC requests HCPSS provide the following analysis specifying the underlying assumptions (identifying the money sources) and denoting the reference documents that were used for the calculations.

Here is the report in PDF format.

HCPSS 2020 Risk Assessment Report

Here is the risk assessment report from David Clark, HCPSS Internal Auditor. High risk areas by alphabetical order:

  • Bus driver shortage
  • Cash reserves
  • Classroom technology and aging infrastructure
  • Deferred maintenance
  • Health fund deficit
  • IT security
  • Mental Health
  • Overcrowding
  • Performance gap
  • Program and resource cuts
  • Regional special education and early childhood programs
  • Special education
  • Staff shortages
  • Teacher absenteeism and staff shortage
  • Teacher development

Frankly this is a long list, especially during our difficult budget discussion. Here is the full report.

2020 CA Scholarship Application starts

For more than 25 years, Columbia Association (CA) has been recognizing high school seniors for outstanding service to their community. Up to six $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to graduating seniors from local high schools who have shown a history of providing community service to benefit Columbia residents and those in the Columbia area.

For details, eligibility requirements and application, go to ColumbiaAssociation.org/scholarship. Completed applications must be submitted by March 15.

2021 HCPSS superintendent’s proposed budget

Here are the big numbers and timeline. The total requested budget will be 964.1 million dollars. It is 62.7 million more than last year approved budget.

The FY 2021 Proposed Budget totals $964.1 million, representing an expenditure increase of $62.7 million, or 7.0 percent.
If advanced by the Board of Education, the revenue to support this request will require an increase from the county totaling
$63.2 million. Overall, the total revenue request from the county is $670.4 million, or 10.4 percent over FY 2020.

Here is the timeline.

Here is Dr. Martirano’s presentation.

Here is the budget book.

https://go.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/files/BKP3H3042F6D/$file/01%2009%202020%20Supt%20Proposed%20FY%202021%20Operating%20Budget.pdf

Previous two years cut list:

Applications for the Student Member of the Board of Education 2020-21

The Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland authorizes the election of a student member of the Howard County Board of Education.  Howard County Policy 2010 specifies that Howard County students in grades 6-11 shall have the opportunity to elect the Student Member of the Howard County Board of Education to a one-year term. 

Please refer to the two attachments on this email including both the letter to school leaders detailing their role in the election process and the complete Student Member of the Board of Education Application explaining the position and the expectations for students. HCASC made an electronic version of the application for the Student Member of the Board position available on the HCASC website https://hcasc.hcpss.org/

HCASC: Many Students, One VoiceAttend the January 2020 HCASC Meeting. HCASC’s next meeting will be held Wednesday, Jan. 8 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Homewood Center. Attend the December 2019 HCASC Meetinghcasc.hcpss.org

 and also provided access to the applications through the offices of Student Services at each high school.

It is now time to receive applications for the next Student Member of the Howard County Board of Education.  Any current sophomore or junior in Howard County may apply for this position. The student must be regularly enrolled in an HCPSS high school, academically eligible, and a junior or senior in the 2020-2021 school year. The student elected by the students of Howard County will serve a one‑year term on the Howard County Board of Education, July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.HCASC students will plan, manage, and host the student delegate convention on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 to review the Student Member of the Board of Education applicants and nominate the final two candidates who will run for the Student Member of the Board of Education position. Delegates will represent every middle and high school in accordance with Policy 2010.

The HCASC advisor and current Student Member will hold an information meeting for candidates and their parents or guardians on February 25, 2020 to further explain the campaign process and guidelines. The candidates selected will then participate in the campaign process by creating and distributing campaign materials, including a video produced by HCASC and HCPSS that will show at all voting schools on election day April 22, 2020.Thank you for your continued support of the Student Member of the Board and all of the students in Howard County Public Schools. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions regarding the Student Member of the Board position, convention, election process, or student voice.

FY 2021 Capital Budget Program FY 2022‐2026 & Long‐Range Master Plan FY 2021‐2030

FY 2021 Capital Budget Capital Improvement Program FY 2022‐2026 & Long‐Range Master Plan FY 2021‐2030

Board Action

The board voted to move HS 13, Hammond High and Talbott Spring projects forward. That means HS 13 will move forward, and construct to start in May 2020.

In May 2020, we may know whether we can move forward (go out for bid) with Hammond High or not. The board need make a decision at that time. We are worrying about local funding match and state funding math at the same time unfortunately.

Paying down HCPSS health fund deficit

Here is the letter from HoCo BOE to the county executive. HCPSS saved around 15 million dollars last year. The board wanted to ask the county approval to use this 15 million dollars to pay down the existing 39 million health fund deficit.

If HCPSS uses this 15 million dollars for FY 2021 recurring operating budget , HCPSS will have an ever growing deficit in 2022. First, the 39 million health fund deficit will not decrease. Second that 15 million dollars will become a deficit, or 27 million dollars if the 12 million dollars from FY 2019-2020 deficit is included again. Note in FY 2019-2002, HCPSS used a one time balance to fund the recurring budget. Now immediately coming into this FY 2021 budget cycle, we have an existing 12 million deficit already, on top of the 39 million health fund deficit.

This is exactly one of many reasons that we got 50 million dollars health fund deficit before, using one time fund to pay recurring cost. We should not repeat old mistakes again.

2021-2024 HCPSS capital project consideration

There are four scenario HCPSS is considering now, among HS 13, Systematic Renovations , Hammond High Renovation/Addition, Talbot Springs Replacement. Please see the tables attached. These were shared with the county council this Monday morning.

Important factors in the funding of a State CIP are:

  1. Local funding is required up front due to the reimbursement nature, even on projects where a local match is not required,
  2. State funding currently is a reimbursement of 55% of eligible costs of construction costs only,
  3. All costs outside of construction (planning, design, engineering, acquisition etc.) for eligible projects are 100% locally funded,
  4. Not all line items within the local CIP are State eligible and those projects therefore are 100% locally funded. Examples include relocatable classrooms, site acquisition, school parking lots, playgrounds,
    technology, and planning and design.

Based on what we are now, we need move forward HS 13 and Systematic Renovation. Depending how much extra money the county can give to HCPSS, HCPSS may move forward with the other two projects.

Please advocate and ask the county executive and county council for support. Unfortunately the fee from the increased development impact fee will not be materialized until next year, otherwise it will be able to fund more needs for HCPSS.

Some other public communicated letters between BOE and the County Executive are attached here for reference too.