Tough choices

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:

https://go.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/files/BBYRJY6E4AC8/$file/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: https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Portals/0/FY2020%20Proposed%20Operating%20Budget-web.pdf

On page 22, we have the numbers:

Screen Shot 2019-05-03 at 11.26.52 PM

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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” https://www.businessinsider.com/ups-efficiency-secret-our-trucks-never-turn-left-2011-3.

At the same time, please read my original post from the 2020 County Spending Affordability Advisory Committee report: https://chaowu.org/2019/03/05/2020-county-spending-affordability-advisory-committee-report/.The 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.