BOE approved FY 2023-2024 budget

BOE approved FY 2023-2024 budget

Board of Education Adopts FY23 Operating & Capital Budgets – HCPSS News

May 27th, 2022

The Howard County Board of Education on May 26 adopted its Operating and Capital Budgets for the 2022-2023 school year (FY 2023). The General Fund operating budget totals $1.03 billion, an increase of $74.8 million over FY 2022 which represents a 7.8 percent change. The FY 2023 capital budget totals $105,887,000, to support capital projects, including new High School #13 and Hammond High School, both scheduled to be completed for school year 2023 and 2024, respectively.

The approved FY 2023 operating budget advances the school system’s ability to meet the growing student needs for academic and behavioral supports, special education, and health services. It also provides funding for employee compensation increases and fully funds negotiated collective bargaining agreements. In addition, the FY 2023 budget will begin the funding increases needed to meet the initial requirements of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, including the phased-in expansion to full-day prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds. In total, the FY 2023 budget adds more than 380 positions in the operating budget.

“I am pleased the budget provides funds to ensure our students receive the much-needed services to support their mental health and academic needs compounded by the pandemic,” said Board Chair Vicky Cutroneo. “I want to thank the County Executive, County Council, Superintendent Martirano, and our school system staff for working collaboratively to advance this budget. Almost half of our total new positions will go directly to support special education where we know we need to continue investing.”

“The budget advances many critical need areas within our system by providing resources and new staff positions to support our students and staff and will have a significant impact on the academic and behavioral supports, and health and special education services we are able to provide,” said HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano. “Through our fiscal management, we have eliminated the Health Fund deficit and can now focus on adding these much-needed supports and services for our students and staff. I am pleased that this budget will provide compensation increases for our employees while laying the foundation to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future over the next ten years.”

“I am particularly proud that the budget continues our investment in special education by funding a total of 186.8 new special education positions, continuing our system’s record growth advanced for special education over the last several budget cycles,” added Martirano.

Howard County funding is increasing $45 million over the required Maintenance of Effort funding, an increase of 7.2 percent, plus nonrecurring funding of $2.3 million that has been conditionally approved by the Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE). State sources of revenue increased by $38.6 million, an increase of 13.7 percent, driven by the implementation of per pupil funding increases required in Blueprint legislation. Federal and other sources of funding remain the same year-over-year. The remaining funds to balance the budget come from the use of unassigned fund balance in the amount of $28.9 million, an increase of $1.9 million from the FY 2022 budget.

Critical Investments to Meet Increased Student Needs

The pandemic has permanently reshaped and redefined public education service levels, compounding the challenges for staff in meeting students’ needs. The budget advances resources and new staff positions necessary to prepare HCPSS to meet students’ increased needs for academic and behavioral supports, special education and health services. The budget includes:

  • Full funding of special education with 186.8 positions, including the special education services to expand full-day prekindergarten programs
  • 1 LGBTQIA+ liaison position
  • 15 liaison positions, including 5 Black Student Achievement Program liaisons, 4 Hispanic achievement liaisons and 2 international achievement liaison positions including an additional 4 liaisons added by the Board on May 19, 2022
  • 10 student health services staff including 2 nurses, 7 health assistants and 1 health specialist
  • 15 student well-being & support positions, including 6 counselors, 8 psychologists, 1 pupil personnel worker, along with the well-being and support positions supporting student needs expanded through Blueprint implementation

Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

The FY 2023 budget includes $25.3 million to begin implementing the core foundation costs needed to meet the requirements of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which begins taking effect next fiscal year and will continue to be rolled out over the next 10 years. FY 2023 Blueprint efforts include:

  • Increasing teacher salaries and advancing the minimum teacher salary toward the required $60,000 minimum by FY 2026. The FY 2023 budget increases the minimum teacher salary from $50,000 to $56,228
  • 79.8 positions for prekindergarten expansion (44 positions for prekindergarten and 35.8 special education positions included in the 186.8 special education positions already listed)
  • 26 positions for college and career readiness
  • 6 positions for career ladder implementation, administration, governance, and reporting

In addition, the budget will advance several additional priorities forward including:

  • School start times adjustment initiative
  • Decrease of class size by 1 at the elementary school level
  • Training on alternatives for seclusion and restraint
  • New High School #13 administration and custodial positions
  • Additional custodial and HVAC maintenance positions
  • Funding for increased costs related to student transportation

The Board adopted a FY 2023 Capital Budget totaling $105,887,000, for costs associated with the continued funding for construction of New High School #13 and the renovation and addition to Hammond High School. In addition, ongoing projects will provide maintenance and support of the school system and operational needs including funds to support systemwide technology needs, the relocatable classroom program, projects addressing accessibility concerns through the barrier free line, and systemic maintenance projects.

The adopted FY 2024-2028 Capital Improvement Program and FY 2023-2032 Long-Range Master Plan provide a path forward with the next planned capital projects and ongoing projects to support operational needs.

The final adopted budget will be available online soon. Additional budget information is available online now.

Howard County Board of Education Adopts FY22 Operating and Capital Budgets

May 27, 2021

Board of Education Adopts FY22 Operating and Capital Budgets

Ellicott City, Maryland — The Howard County Board of Education adopted its Operating and Capital Budgets for the 2021-2022 school year (FY 2022) on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The operating budget totals $942.6 million, an increase of $23.9 million over FY 2021. The FY 2022 capital budget totals $90.4 million, providing continuity of funding for priority capital projects.

The FY 2022 operating budget maintains the school system’s focus on supporting students and the staff who are entrusted with their education and care, by maintaining existing program and service levels without reducing class sizes or staff positions. It includes funding to advance the Board’s key priorities, including addressing critical shortages in special education staffing, enhancing the staffing and focus on student mental health and well-being, and increasing staff compensation.

“I am pleased that despite the need to make difficult decisions, we are able to increase our continuous support for special education, focus on students’ mental health and well-being, maintain class sizes, and advance other essential goals for the support of our students and excellent staff,” said Board Chair Dr. Chao Wu. “I appreciate the support and collaboration among our County Executive, County Council, Board members, Superintendent, staff and community members, which have resulted in a budget that is fiscally responsible while addressing the Board’s most critical priorities.”

“This budget moves our system forward in enhancing services and supports to give each student the best possible education in a nurturing learning environment, and to support the staff whom we entrust with their learning and care,” said HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano. “This budget represents a substantial increase in positions to support student well-being – which has been one of my top priorities – and adds five social workers, three pupil personnel workers, thirteen counselors and one psychologist. I greatly appreciate the ongoing collaboration among our county leaders, Board, staff and community, whose dedicated efforts have been instrumental in ensuring financial support for our students and schools within a very tight fiscal environment.”

The $942.6 million operating budget includes $640.8 million in county funding, representing approximately $10.5 million above Maintenance of Effort, the minimum level of funding required by state law; $282.5 million from the state; and $7.4 million from federal and other sources. The budget also includes the use of $12 million of unassigned fund balance in order to fulfill obligations and advance key goals without requiring deeper impact to the classroom.

The approved FY 2022 operating budget maintains the school system’s commitment to sound fiscal management and cost containment while fulfilling several of HCPSS’ highest priorities:

  • Addresses critical shortages in special education with the addition of 70.7 staff positions
  • Accommodates enrollment changes while maintaining current class sizes with the addition of 27 pooled positions
  • Enhances student well-being and mental health services through the addition of 22 student services positions, including five social workers, three pupil personnel workers, thirteen school counselors, and one school psychologist
  • Enhances support for early reading instruction and to address dyslexia and other reading challenges, with the addition of 4.5 reading specialist positions and DIBELS training for staff
  • Funds compensation increases for all staff
  • Sustains the recent investments in technology with the addition of 5.0 positions
  • Reduces the remaining Health Fund deficit by applying a $10 million, one-time county funding allocation
  • Fully funds actuarial projected employee health insurance costs for the fourth consecutive year

As a result of the ongoing budget pressures in the county and state, the needs of the school system continue to outpace funding allocations, and the Board had to make difficult decisions to balance the FY 2022 budget. Significant savings were realized by eliminating proposed new staff positions associated with enrollment growth anticipated in the 2021-2022 school year, while increasing the number of pooled positions to allow flexibility in staffing assignments throughout the year. Notably, the adopted budget avoids any reductions in services or programs, or increases in class size.  

Additional savings were achieved through the use of grant funding to cover as many costs as possible for technology infrastructure and student services. HCPSS will continue to aggressively seek federal and state grant funding to accelerate learning recovery and help relieve costs resulting from the pandemic and its impact on students and schools.

The Board adopted a FY 2022 Capital Budget totaling $90.4 million, for costs associated with continued construction of a replacement Talbott Springs Elementary School, scheduled to open in fall 2022; continued construction of a new 13th county high school, targeted to open in fall 2023; and a renovation and addition to Hammond High School, scheduled for completion in fall 2023. Additional funding is allocated for on-going and systemic renovations, which include replacements and upgrade of rooftops, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at several schools, and other continued capital needs.

Details of the budget decisions are available online.

Personal Budget Testimony for 2021 County Operating Budget

2020-3-30 Howard County Budget Testimony

My name is Chao Wu. I am a member of Howard County Board of Education.  

Before I begin my testimony, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our County Executive Dr. Ball who has worked with the school board to develop a solid plan to address the historical health fund deficit issue.  My family and I, along with all Howard County residents, also appreciate very much our county government’s tremendous effort in addressing the coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately this epidemic will most likely incur additional pressure on the county’s budget for next year. 

The board is united in our commitment to bring down the health fund deficit with a clear path and vision. However, I am here today to testify not as a board member but as a parent. 

First, I would like to point out that without extra money coming into HCPSS, it would be extremely difficult in keeping class size small, paying teachers well, improving special education and maintaining academic excellence. 

HCPSS is in a crisis mode where schools are overcrowded, buildings lack maintenance and resources are needed everywhere in the school system. The recent need on Technology also highlights our long-term underfunding issue in this aspect. HCPSS has a 500 million deferred maintenance list and many large capital  projects : High School 13, Hammond High, Talbott Spring Elementary, and Turf Valley Elementary, Dunloggin Middle. The list can also go on and on. When HS 13 opens in 2023, we will probably need another extra 10 million dollars for its operating cost.

Second, with the HCPSS budget crisis, I believe our county government should not operate as business as usual. In my opinion, the county budget needs to shift its priority to the education of our children. The county needs to shrink its spending in some other areas and increase the share of spending for HCPSS.  

I ask the county to have a thorough cost and benefit analysis for each project. We need to differentiate the Needs and the Wants. There are several big projects that in my opinion belong to the category of Wants. They are ranging from 15 million dollars, to 60 millions, 80 million dollars, even to more than 100 million dollars in the county’s budget book now and in the future.  

In addition, since public libraries in the digital age will have less physical books, their space could be used as a community center for our kids, parents, seniors and community groups. To save cost, the relocation and rebuilding of the central library, or any future library renovations should be incorporated with a community center concept, vice verse. I would also suggest that the county could collaborate with Columbia Association or other partners to offer services for our residents instead of building our own facilities.

At the same time, please slow down residential development since our school capacity could not catch up with the pace of the rapid development. I sincerely hope the county government and the county council eventually find the balance on this most pressing developmental issue our county is facing now.

Our school system is one of the greatest assets for our county. With ever growing budget constraints, we would not be able to keep our renowned world class high education standard. The school system’s reputation is the single most important factor that Howard County is able to keep attracting more families to move here. About 41% of our county revenue comes from property tax and 49% of it comes from personal income. If these two revenues drop because of the deterioration of the school system, our tax base will decrease and eventually everybody will suffer.   

Howard County is at a critical moment. Our school’s good reputation is on the life line now. If it starts going downwards, it would be very difficult to reverse the trend. We have witnessed this alarming pattern in some neighboring counties. We need to work very hard to avoid this disaster happening in Howard County. 

Please invest in our County’s future! Please invest in our school system!

Thank you.

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.

One community feedback on FY 2020-2021 budget

Now more parents understand that HCPSS will face another tough budget year of 2021. Even before the superintendent presents his budget to the board, the board begins to receive many feedback from the community.

With the permission from the original sender, here is one email talking about the 2021 budget. Some of the points are very thoughtful and useful. At such a difficult budget time, every penny is important to HCPSS.

The document talks about cost saving measures related to: testing, renovation, printing, textbooks, busing, building usage fee, staffing formula, technology usage, etc.

Health Fund Deficit Grew Larger

Our auditor Cohn Reznick has informed HCPSS that HCPSS CAFR will likely include a “GAAP” departure, which includes a qualified or adverse opinion. This change may impact our county’s AAA bond rating, which means the county may borrow less with higher interest rate in the future.

So HCPSS will work with the county executive and the county council to create a concrete, workable plan to reduce the health fund deficit and avoid another adverse opinion next year. Three parties should be on the same boat for this crisis we are facing now. Otherwise, this will tirgger down and impact many people.

The reason for this adverse opinion is that HCPSS was not able to reduce health fund deficit. Health care claim for FY 2019 were 10.2 million over the budgeted amount of 130.6 millions. Even after some internal fund transfer, the deficit grew from 37 million to 39.2 million. During the FY 2020 budget cycle, a one time 12 million dollars, that was planned and supposed to be used to reduce the heath fund deficit, was used for FY 2020 operating cost such that the auditor failed to see HCPSS to have a plan and execute the plan.

Attached please see the memo BOE audit committee discussed with our auditor.

HCPSS FY 2021 budget ahead

This was posted on my facebook.  I think I should post it here too. The post was updated on September 10, 2020 based on staff info.

Many people asked me on school budget. Here are numbers(estimated). We will get better estimate during budget work session on 4:00-6:00PM September 10, 2019.

The school needs balance its’ budget such that we spend what we have.

For Fiscal Year 2021, starting from the beginning, we need extra 12 million for operating budget which is from this year deficit (we are funding some operating budget this year with one time funding), 10-11 million due to extra student growth(800 students*15000 per year=12 million), 25-28 million for teacher and staff salary increase (negotiated 4% as last year, not approved yet), 7-8 million dollar health care cost increase. 

Furthermore, health care fund still has that 37 millions deficit hanging there. This 37 million dollars maybe go up/down. We will get an update on this number by the end of September 2019.

So in total, we need extra 59 million for operating budget, one time 37 million to pay down health care deficit. So the total is around 96 million dollars at least.

Other obligations that we know will have a budget impact but do not have estimates at the this time:

  • Transportation contract costs(no-redistricting related)
  • Dual enrollment FARMS tuition increase
  • Non-public placement
  • Insurance/Risk management
  • Special Education


Thinking about during this year’s budget discussion, we were looking at saving 10,000 here and there. We are not sure how the economy will turn out in the next 12 months. We are also not sure how much the county and state would love to fund HCPSS.

We have a really tough, tough 2021 budget in front of us. I love to hear your ideas how to balance the budget.

Screen Shot 2019-08-28 at 12.54.05 PM

Thoughts before 2020 HCPSS budget vote

It is my first school budget. The process is painful and the result is painful.

It was so painful that I have to see so many dedicated technology teachers, math support teachers, reading support teachers, math instruction support teachers, and paraeducators will lose their positions due to our vote. Fortunately they will not lose their job and income.

It is not your fault at all. When a math resource teacher called me and cried, I really don’t know what to say that point. We don’t have much choices.

increasing class size, cutting music teachers, cutting GT teachers , cutting technology teachers, cutting paraeducator, cutting math support teachers or reading support teachers or more. There is no good choice and we have to balance the budget.

I am looking forward to seeing how to make next year budget better. The reality is very tough. We will have a 37 millions dollar health care deficit and around 12 million dollar operating budget deficit starting at our next budget discussion.

We need revenue and find efficiency.  We need clean our house first before any new initiatives.

  1. Managing our temporary worker system will bring some money.
  2. Charging daycare center running on school facility will bring some money. Right now, the rent is 1 dollar.
  3. Charging some school facility usage fee will bring some revenue
  4. We need increase school fundraising effort. (added after the post loaded here)
  5. We need examine every aspect of our operation.
  6. We need figure out how to increase our starting teacher salary to 50k to make our salary competitive . We need examine our health care benefit and reform it, and make it more sustainable as soon as possible. Our teachers and staff need our support.
  7. Running a school system is also like running a business. We need find efficiency. We need find result. We need innovate.

Furthermore, we need our county executive and county council’s continuous and strong support.

  • We need increase our development impact fee to at least 8 dollars per square fee, which is still lower than neighboring counties. This will bring tens of million dollars to the county revenue and ease the school over-crowding a little bit. This will decrease our need to rely on debt to fund county capital budgets.
  • If people consider increasing property tax and other tax, please make sure the development impact fee will be increased first
  • also make sure the increased revenue will go into education. We should always be mindful increasing tax will create an extra financial burden to many families too.

The school system can only do so much with limited revenue. I will make sure our school system will not go back to the same faulty path as previous school administration.

We don’t have a rosy road ahead of us at all. Let’s all work together to fix the problem, bring our school back to the right track gradually and still be one of the best.

Our students are counting on us. Thanks.

Tough choices and FY 2020 budget

Make tough choices and share the burden together

I would like to tell a story: A poor family had five kids. One year,  there was a shortage of food because of the natural disaster. They had to make a tough choice:

  • Every family member had less food and work through the tough year together.
  • Give two children to other families such that with less people they can have more food for each remaining family member.

This was a true story happened in my “Wu” family two generations ago. Due to severe food shortage, one of my grandfather’s brother was given to another family and even changed his family name. It was 70 years ago. My great grandparents regretted that decision when the family condition changed for better later. Now all of them experienced that passed away.

Now 70 years later in Howard County, we are facing a very tough budget shortfall. At the same time, we are facing a tough choice. Are we going to surplus our teachers out, who are our best assets and make our classrooms even more crowded, or all of us stay together and find a way to get through the tough time? Or every stakeholder shares the burden collectively?

Cuts and Savings, HCPSS FY 2020 Budget Update

Wednesday afternoon’s work session on the FY2020 school budget was tough. After the discussion, here are some highlights:

  1. After the discussion, increasing class size by 2 and surplusing teachers (123.7 cut: elementary technology teacher from 62.2 to 42; music teacher from 52 to 26; GT elementary from 79.5 to 42; GT middle from 60 to 20) and para-educators (104 cut: elementary paraeducator from 216 to 132; middle school math paraeducator cut 15, middle school reading paraeducator, cut 5),  are on-hold with a 10 million dollars deficit. There are a small number hiring increase (para-educator) in several areas too because of cutting teachers.
  2. At the same time, we are increasing the health care deficit with another 7 million dollars to 44 million dollars next year. We are creating an operating budget deficit for FY2021 since we are using a 10 million fund balance to fund incurring operating cost.
  3. We are not able put extra fund on the student mental health and well-being, restorative and inclusive support. program innovation, deferred maintenance and balancing capacity and changing school start time.
  4. We are now waiting for the county council to give us extra 10 million dollars if they can.
  5. The school budget discussion will be difficult for this year and many years forward.

Here is document: 05 08 2019 Budget Work Session Document

The link is here:

Click to access 05%2008%202019%20Budget%20Work%20Session%20Documentss.pdf


HCPSS 2020 operating budget update

The board received many emails about the school budget proposed by the County Executive. In those emails they talked about a 30 million dollar increase on the operating budget over last year. This is not true. The increase is 0.9% percent and the amount is 5.14 million dollars. 

Here is Howard County Proposed. FY2020 budget:

On page 22, we have the numbers:

Screen Shot 2019-05-03 at 11.26.52 PM


It is a tough year for the school board and the county government. Since the county executive’s operating budget was out already, we need convince the county council to allocate extra money for the school system.

The school system needs to balance the budget. Here are some big numbers: 

  1. There is a 37 million dollar deficit in the health fund which we need pay off. In 2020 we need spend extra 7 million dollars on the health care fund in order not to increase the deficit.
  2. There is an increase of around 800-1000 new students into HCPSS. For each student, the county spent around 11k ( total is around 15,476 per HCPSS student) and the total net increase on spending by the student enrollment increase is around 11.5 million dollars (10.3 M for staff increase and 1.2 million for transportation) .
  3. We have FY 2019 negotiated salary increase for teachers which is 6.7 million dollars. This has to be honored.
  4. We have another negotiated salary increase (@3%) for teachers which is 19 million dollars. For the same reason, we have other salary increase for non-teachers which is 3.1 million dollars.
  5.  We have non-public placement for special education(new enrollment?), which is 3.8 million dollars.
  6. Other materials of instruction and operations of  plant are around 2.5 million dollars.

I can assure you that increasing the class size will be the last choice for the board. Increasing class size by one will save 6.5 millions dollars.

The board will have another work session on May 8th, Wednesday 4:00-6:00PM.

Stay tuned.

One Page Proposed HCPSS 2020 Budget

This is a summary for people to understand the current budget quickly.

I am a little disappointed that redistricting tool and transportation routing are in the optional category. I am glad they are  included in the budget with my push, but they are still not receiving enough support. Starting high school late, bus route optimization and student safety, school redistricting require us to have the necessary tool and software to get it right. Without the right data to  support, it is hard to make the right decision.

Here is an article “Why UPS drivers do not make a left turn”

At the same time, please read my original post from the 2020 County Spending Affordability Advisory Committee report: county projected revenue growth is around 10 million dollars.

We are in short of money to provide the same level of service for our school system. We need innovate to educate.