HCPSS Eliminates Health Fund Deficit Two Years Ahead of Schedule

HCPSS Eliminates Health Fund Deficit Two Years Ahead of Schedule

 July 12, 2021

This press release is being sent jointly by the Howard County Public School System and County Executive’s Office

Ellicott City, Maryland — Howard County Public School System Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano, joined by Board of Education Chair Dr. Chao Wu, County Executive Calvin Ball, County Council Chair Liz Walsh, and system and county leaders, today announced the school system’s health fund deficit will be eliminated this year (fiscal year 2022) – two years ahead of schedule.

The deficit, which began in 2015 and was first discussed publicly in May 2017 by then newly hired Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano, grew to $39.2 million before a combination of several efforts were implemented to halt the continuing deficit growth. The first step was to begin to fully fund actuarially projected health insurance costs and then begin to pay down the deficit. In 2019, a plan was jointly developed by the Superintendent and County Executive to eliminate the deficit by fiscal year 2024. Using savings within the school system’s operating budget, a one-time infusion of funds from the Howard County Government, and a lower-than-expected claims experience in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, the health deficit will be eliminated in this current fiscal year (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022) with an estimated $5 million positive balance if claims are consistent with actuarial projections. 

“This deficit has significantly constrained our operating budget for several years and limited our ability to adequately fund several priorities,” said Superintendent Martirano. “Eliminating the deficit became an immediate top priority for me and Board of Education members. Today truly is a momentous day as we can celebrate that our commitment and collaboration has finally addressed this deficit and that the Howard County Public School System will not be hampered by this looming deficit year after year. It is our responsibility and the responsibility of all future leaders in our county to ensure that our employee health care costs are fully funded.”

“The School System’s Health Fund Deficit represented a significant fiscal challenge that our Administration and County Council had to confront upon taking office. In just 3 years, we have accomplished something truly remarkable: we have taken a near $40 million deficit and turned it into a projected surplus of over $5 million,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our Administration, School System and Board of Education faced a daunting challenge, met it head on, and resolved the issue working together. I am proud of the work we’ve done to eliminate the Health Fund Deficit and am thankful to have good partners like Dr. Martirano, the members of the Board of Education, and our Howard County Council to make today possible.”

“This was not a problem created by this Board or this Superintendent, but it was ours to fix,” said Board Chair Wu. “Since 2017, this Board of Education has prioritized fully funding the actuarially projected health insurance costs, preventing the deficit from growing. We will continue to prioritize the health benefits that our employees receive and engage in sound financial practices to ensure we never find ourselves in this position again.”
 
“The County Council has shared consistently with the Superintendent’s and Board of Education’s goal to eliminate this health fund deficit as quickly as we possibly could,” said Liz Walsh, County Council Chair. “So much so that we voted unanimously in support of an amendment to dedicate an additional $2.5 million to this exclusive purpose. We can now all turn our attention to fully funding the present needs and future needs of our county school system and the children in our care at this very moment and for generations to come.”

The Superintendent detailed several collaborative efforts to eliminate the health fund deficit:

  • The efforts of the Board of Education’s steadfast commitment to fully funding the actuarially projected health insurance costs to stop the deficit from growing
  • The County Executive and County Council’s collaboration by dedicating significant contributions to deficit reduction
  • The strategic budgetary measures that were put in place to generate year-end savings in the HCPSS General Fund to help pay down the deficit
  • Unanticipated health cost savings in the Health Fund producing operating gains

“Today truly is a momentous day as we celebrate that our commitment and collaboration has finally addressed this deficit and our budgetary focus will not be on getting out of a multi-million dollar debt but on how the budget can support the very important programs and services that our students and staff need. This includes implementing the Blueprint for Maryland legislation and welcoming back all of our students back to school next month to normalized instruction,” added Martirano. 

 

HoCo BOE hiring board administrator

Our current board administrator Mrs. Kathy Hanks will retire soon. We will miss Mrs. Hanks greatly. Her professionalism is the best I have ever seen.

We are hiring for a new one.

Position Type:
  Central Office, Professional/Administrator to the Board of Education

Date Posted:
  6/25/2021

Location:
  Central Office, Howard County Public School System

Closing Date:
  07/11/2021

Here is the link for application

https://www.applitrack.com/hcpss/onlineapp/default.aspx?Category=Central+Office%2c+Professional

Administrator to the Board of Education
This position opens on June 25, 2021 and closes July 11, 2021.


DESCRIPTION
Under the supervision of the Chairman of the Board of Education (BOE), the Administrator to the Board of Education provides oversight and implementation of the daily operations of the Board of Education office including the supervision of assigned administrative staff.  The Administrator serves as a liaison between members of the Board of Education, Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) staff, and constituents.  The Administrator works closely with the Office of the Superintendent to coordinate joint meetings, the development of the quarterly agenda, and the response to urgent matters.

The ideal candidate for this position has exceptional ability to manage complex and time sensitive projects. With outstanding customer service and communication skills, this individual deals tactfully and effectively with school administrators, school system staff, external organizations, and the general public. The ideal candidate is skilled in the use a variety of computer software and cloud-based applications such as Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, and video conferencing platforms. The ability to exercise judgment, resourcefulness, discretion, and confidentiality in this role is paramount.

To learn more about employment with HCPSS, please visit https://www.hcpss.org/employment/.

ESSENTIAL POSITION RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Schedules and participates in all Board of Education business meetings, work sessions, special meetings, and public hearings, documenting actions and discussions. Provides leadership in agenda management by preparing and maintaining all Board meeting agendas. Transcribes, prepares, and oversees distribution of meeting minutes. Oversees maintenance of official archive of all Board meeting minutes.  Maintains the confidentiality of materials.
  • Serves as the primary compliance officer for the Open Meetings Act as it pertains to Board meetings. Ensures all meeting are announced and agenda posted.
  • Maintains the Board calendar and strategically plans and implements activities related to official Board business. Establishes short-term and long-term priorities and milestones to address them on time.
  • Serves as first point of contact between the Board and the community.  Exercises independent judgment to answer questions from constituents and internal staff on matters related to the Board, originates a wide variety of correspondence, and refers inquiries to the appropriate person or department. Interprets and communicates HCPSS policies as needed to respond to and resolve inquiries.
  • Maintains effective communication and collaboration with the Office of the Superintendent.
  • Provides timely notice to the Board of sensitive or potential crisis situations within the school system.
  • Collects, researches, compiles, organizes, and presents information on a variety of issues at the request of Board Members. Maintains a list of Board requests for action, unfinished Board business, and future agenda items. Follows up with staff on outstanding action items.
  • Serves as the liaison for appeals to the Board of Education.  Collaborates with the Board’s attorney concerning Board requests and appeals by the public and employees. Processes appeals to the Board in accordance with established procedures. Arranges Board hearings in a timely manner. Informs appellant of the Board’s appeal procedures. Assigns hearing examiner and ensures relevant legal material is available for review prior to the hearing.
  • Coordinates Board retreats and orientation for new Board members. Schedules professional development for Board members as needed. Informs Board members of operating procedures and protocol for meetings, hearings, executive sessions, and other Board activities.
  • Establishes and maintains communication and effective working relationships with community and stakeholder groups, internal and external organizations, and agencies that provide educational related services.
  • Maintains the Board calendar and has authority for commitment of time. Arranges meetings between Board members and executive staff, elected officials, and other constituents as requested.

The above list is a summary of the functions of the job, not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all possible job responsibilities, tasks, and duties.


MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS
Applicants must meet all the following qualifications, listed below, to be considered for the vacancy.

Education:

  • A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in public or business administration, public relations, communications, or a related field.

Experience:

  • At least (5) five years of experience working with senior leadership and executive level staff and providing leadership in the execution of highly complex projects and administrative tasks. 
  • Experience supervising and training staff.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Experience running effective meetings utilizing parliamentary procedure.
  • Knowledge of the Maryland Open Meetings Act.
  • Experience utilizing BoardDocs Pro or similar school board management software.
  • Knowledge of the Maryland Annotated Code for Education.
  • Knowledge of the general organization and functions of Maryland public school systems.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

  • Ability to work evenings and occasional weekends, frequently under pressure.

SALARY
This is a 12-month per year position in the Administrative, Management, and Technical employee group. The current salary range for this position is Group G, $102,020- $148,624. Salary placement will be in conjunction with salary procedures of the Howard County Public School System which considers relevant prior experience. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, this position is exempt from overtime.


APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
Only applicants who submit all the requested information by the closing date of the vacancy will be considered for this position. Interviews will be limited to those applicants who, in addition to meeting the basic requirements, have experiences and education which most closely match the position qualifications and the needs of the school system. 

Please note that a completed application includes:

  • A complete application form that includes a listing of employment locations with dates of employment and names of direct supervisors.
  • All supplemental materials (i.e.: resume, letter of introduction, and transcripts) required to verify that you meet the minimum qualifications.

HCPSS requires an official evaluation of foreign credentials to verify educational qualifications.
For questions regarding this vacancy, please contact:

Sandy Saval
Human Resources Business Partner
Office of Human Resources
(410) 313-6689
sandy_saval@hcpss.org


Equal Opportunity Employer
The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  HCPSS ensures equal employment opportunity for all persons without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.

20 recommendations from 2021 OBRC

Here are 20 recommendations from 2021 OBRC.

  1. The OBRC recommends the Board request the Superintendent to obtain and provide the Board with a health benefit participation comparison among peer counties to clarify the findings in SB and Company’s Agreed-Upon Procedures Report. (Recommendation approved 12 to 5 with 2 abstentions) 

2. The OBRC recommends that HCPSS modernize its technology curriculum to expand the introduction to coding as a second language and computer science as a core discipline from K-12. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

3. The OBRC recommends the Board fully fund the line item on page 290 of the Superintendent’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget of $174,000 for contracted services that “Increases funding to provide reading intervention and dyslexia tutoring services provided by Orton Gillingham.” (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

4. The OBRC recommends the Board direct the Superintendent to present a cost-benefit analysis of the expected expenditures and/or savings incurred or expected through advancing expertise, training and certification of critical education staff and shifting to in-house staff development in science based and data driven reading intervention programs (one example is Orton Gillingham) to provide student tutoring versus contracting with outside services. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

5. The OBRC recommends the Board direct the Superintendent to more clearly define the HCPSS implementation process and initiatives that allow HCPSS to sustain and fully comply with the Ready to Read Act of 2019 and the key performance indicators on page 289 of the Superintendent’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget and to decrease the achievement gap of students that are identified as failing the benchmark of proficient in reading, including defining the 5 year (or longer) plan and the expected operating dollars that would be expended and/or saved. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

6. The OBRC recommends the Board direct the Superintendent to conduct a comparative analysis, using surrounding school districts, of the special education teachers/teacher’s aides to student ratio and the respective average caseloads. The OBRC requests the analysis compare current job descriptions and responsibilities of special education related services and support staff (i.e. paraprofessionals and behavioral specialists), to provide information to assess if HCPSS is utilizing the most effective staffing formula models to provide mandated special education services. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

7. The OBRC recommends the Board direct the Superintendent to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for utilizing HCPSS employed and trained staff vs. temporary teacher’s aides, including the expected 

expenditures and/or savings incurred to convert staff from temporary to full-time employees and necessary steps and timeline for the conversion. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

8. The OBRC recommends the Board request detailed staff turnover reports for Programs 3320 & 3321 for fiscal years 2018 to 2020 to explain the discrepancies between the budgets and actuals for salaries. The Board requests the report include the number of vacancies on the first day of school, the last day of the first semester, and the last day of school. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

9. The OBRC recommends the Board request a detailed explanation of where excess funds for Programs 3320 & 3321 were reallocated/reinvested in fiscal years 2018 to 2020 (excluding the federal pass-through funding in fiscal year 2020 that distorts the final numbers). (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

10. The OBRC recommends the Board request that the fiscal year 2022 budget reflect the delineation between federal pass-through dollars in Program 3321 – Contracted Labor and traditional funding sources to clarify the massive increase in spending that has not been explained in the fiscal year 2021 budget or fiscal year 2022 budget proposal. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

11. The OBRC recommends the Board review salary increases and discontinue the practice of “me-too” salary adjustments for AMT staff not covered under the bargaining positions to achieve closer alignment with salary maximums in peer counties. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

12. The OBRC recommends the Board direct the Superintendent to provide the Board with a comparison of four similar size peer county models for administration of community service and pass-through programs such as Health Services, Infants & Toddlers, and Mental Health Services to clarify the cost impact on HCPSS. (Recommendation approved unanimously) 

13. The OBRC recommends the Board include full funding of $5,357,451 in the Operating Budget for the Funding Commitments for Special Education New Enrollment. (Recommendation approved by consensus) 

14. The OBRC recommends the Board ask the Superintendent to prepare a report that includes information from each department and/or division that has Policy 1080 implementation responsibility and budgetary impact. (Recommendation approved by consensus) 

15. The OBRC recommends the Board provide full funding from sources including the Operating Budget and other sources of funds for the new Digital Education Center. (Recommendation approved by consensus) 

16. The OBRC recommends the Board include full funding in the Operating Budget for Sustaining Technology Infrastructure and Cybersecurity Safeguards. (Recommendation approved 13 to 0 with 2 abstentions) 

17. The OBRC recommends the Board include full funding in the Operating Budget for Enhanced Efforts in Reading Instruction and Dyslexia Training. (Recommendation approved by consensus) 

18. The OBRC recommends the Board consider the one-time funding listed in the application for ESSER II in determining what areas may be reasonable to consider reducing in the primary Operating Budget, where one-time expenditures exist, with the intention to leverage the enhanced opportunities in state funding to meet HCPSS goals. (Recommendation approved 9 to 0 with 5 abstentions) 

19. The OBRC recommends the Board not set the management presentation schedule for the OBRC. (Recommendation approved 12 to 1) 

20. The OBRC recommends the Board give the OBRC an opportunity to provide monthly reports at Board meetings during the budget period of January to June to improve communication and feedback between the Board and the OBRC. (Recommendation approved by consensus) 

Latency and Disconnect in the new construction yield and school over-capacity

There have been continuous discussions of school prediction on new housing development is not reflecting the school overcrowding issue. Here I am sharing some numbers of 15 housing developments. We have the projected student numbers and the real enrollment in 2018,2019 and 2020. The real enrollment is as high as 6 times as projected for High School, 4.66 times for Middle School and 3.61 times for Elementary School. Why is there such a disconnect? Here are some of my thoughts.

  1. The first year projection (New Construction Yield for Howard County Council terminology) on new housing development does not tell the whole story.
  2. One example, when the house permit is approved in the first year and the house is sold on the second year, it will be counted as resale. For the general public, this should be counted as new development enrollment.
  3. We should look at accumulated enrollment number over the years on new development parcel until it is done. There is a huge latency and discrepancy while only considering the new student number at the first year.
  4. I propose that the impact number (New Construction Yield) should use a different formula:
    • total enrolled students after all houses are sold/total house number
    • it could be further divided by total year of development carefully if we need consider yearly yield.
  5. I am looking forward to the new number based on this formula for New Construction Yield.
  6. After all houses are sold, there will be continuous resale. Then we can make a simple assumption that those resale will follow the general housing market.

What is your thought? Please share it with me at chao_wu@hcpss.org. Thanks a lot for helping me understand this issue better. Together we hope we can get this right.

The ration between Real Enrollment over New Construction Yield

The real enrollment

The New Construction Yield:

The data is attached here for your reference. BOE board member VicKy Cutroneo put many efforts on this and shared this data with me.

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.

Chart School Application

HCPSS BOE is receiving its first charter school application, at least in my term. Here it is the application document for discussion on Thursday May 27, 2021. The school will be located in Elkridge and focus on students with needs.

The report provides the evaluation of the Reading Opens Doors, Inc charter school application. The original letter of intent and application were received on August 7, 2020 with the final application documents received on March 4, 2021. The applicant’s focus is to maximize the academic abilities of K-5th vulnerable and marginalized children and help them to pursue their dreams.

Here is the application pdf file.

Latest APFO chart from HCPSS

The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) School Capacity charts are utilized as part of the growth management process of Howard County for new residential developments. The test year for the 2021 APFO
School Capacity Charts is SY 2024-25. For SY 2024-25, there are 22 elementary, six middle, and five high
schools listed as constrained. Additionally, there are two elementary school regions listed as constrained,
which constrains two additional schools, bringing the total to 24 elementary schools. (see Attachment 2).

Some math about HCPSS funding needs and gaps

Some math about HCPSS funding needs and gaps

I wrote something on this topic before. Here I am doing some simple math again with a relative simple model. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. Revised according to some suggestions.

Funding needs because of student enrollment growth

  1. We have been seeing an average of 1000 new students per year for HCPSS in the past 10 years. Assuming 10% of the growth are students with special needs.
  2. The increased cost is : 900*10,000 per student for general education from county funding +100*30000 per student for special education from county funding =12 million dollars
  3. Another calculation using average (16k per student ) 16k * 1000=16 million dollars. County funds 2/3 of those, which is equivalent 10.6 million dollars.
  4. So in general, we need more than 10 million extra dollars each year to accommodate our student’s growth in order not to increase class size or cut service.

Does housing development pay the cost?

  1. Assuming a house has two students over 30 years staying at HCPSS, ignoring inflation.
  2. The property tax for a 400k house is 4k*30=120 K dollars in total.
  3. The cost for 2 new students for HCPSS: 50k ( per student per seat in capital budget) *2 + 10000*13 (years)*2 = 360 K dollars
  4. The gap of funding is 240 K per house.
  5. If the house keeps generating students continuously ( the family moves in only when students attending HCPSS, assuming 20 years for two students ) , the tax will be 4k*20=80k. The gap will be 280k. Every forty year, the funding gap will be 560K, more than half million dollars.
  6. There are also many other costs (infrastructure, county government etc) beyond school system.

HCPSS is hiring bus drivers

HCPSS is hiring bus drivers

Interested in becoming a bus driver?

Applicants must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Have a clean criminal background
  • Be willing to work 180 days a year, and be off during the summer months (however, possible summer work is available)

View a list of current bus contractors and call their office for an application.

To be a certified school bus driver, you are required to:

  • Possess a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) with a “P” and “S” (passenger and school bus) endorsement. The HCPSS provides the behind-the-wheel instruction to acquire this license and the necessary endorsements.
  • Pass a physical and drug screening examination.
  • Provide a driving record that shows two or less current points. The driver will be able to acquire this from the MVA.
  • Submit to a criminal background check that results in no disqualifying convictions or outstanding criminal charges.
  • Complete an 18-hour pre-service training program for certification in Howard County provided by the HCPSS Pupil Transportation Office.
  • Wages and number of hours worked vary from contractor to contractor.

For questions regarding an application, please contact the Pupil Transportation Office at 410-313-6732 or view the current bus contractor list for direct phone numbers.

Think twice about passing that school bus. In Howard County, it could cost  you $250. - Baltimore Sun

Discussion at the Howard County Council meeting with SAAC committee

Discussion at the Howard County Council meeting with SAAC committee

I put up the speech last night and did not do much grammar check.

Chair Walsh, thanks for inviting me to this meeting. This is Dr. Chao Wu, chair of Howard County Board of Education. I am not speaking on behalf of the board, even though probably every board member agrees with me.  I appreciate the county council for giving me the opportunity.

Since the release of the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee (SAAC) report, it has been a month and half. Our county executive already released his 2022 capital budget.

I would like to talk about the SAAC report and the ongoing challenges the school system is facing. I am also proposing two possible solutions. 

First, let’s talk about 2022 school system capital projects. There is an urgent funding need for school maintenance and three new construction projects (Talbott Springs ES, Hammond High and HS 13). Under the county executive 2022 capital budget, the gap is as high as 30 million dollars for the school system.

  1. The Board and HCPSS staff have continuously noted during public discussions with the County Council and State Delegation regarding the costs of these three construction projects. These projects moved forward with construction in 2021 because of the joint commitment to maintain this funding. 
  2. However, with  the current capital funding level from the county’s 2022 capital budget, we have to defer many maintenance projects again. Some projects have been deferred for more than 10 years, even 20 years. That is one reason why the school system is having a 800 million dollars maintenance list since we keep deferring them. Here are some examples:
    1. ARL Heating ventilation and Air Conditioning renovation, last replaced 1968. Older than many people here. The cost is 25 million dollars.
    2. Centennial High School Renovation, Addition and HVAC replacement, last replaced 1997. Cost 90 million dollars.
    3. Dunloggin Middle School, Renovation, Addition and HVAC replacement, last replaced in 1994,  cost 41 million dollars.
    4. Elkridge Landing Middle School, HVAC replacement, last replaced 1995. Cost 10 million dollars
    5. Forest Ridge Elementary School, Heating ventilation and air conditioning system replacement, last replaced 1992, cost 42 million dollars
    6. Fulton Elementary School, HVAC and Roof replacement, last replaced 1997, cost 18 million dollars
    7. Hammond Middle School, Renovation and HVAC replacement, 41 million dollars
    8. Harpers Choice Middle school, renovation and HVAC replacement, 17 million dollars,
    9. Jefferson Hills ES, Boiler replacement, last replaced 1974, cost 0.5 million dollars; HVAC replacement, last replaced 1998, cost 51 million dollars
    10. Long Reach High School, HVAC replacement, 38 million dollars
    11. Manor Woods Elementary School, HVAC replacement, last replaced 1994, cost 10 million dollars
    12. Mayfield Woods MS renovation, 41 million dollars
    13. Oakland Mills High School, renovation,  last renovated 1973, cost 110 million 
    14. Oakland Mills Middle School renovation, 51 million dollars
    15. Old Cedar Lane, replacement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, last replaced 1982, cost 10 million dollars
    16. Patapsco Middle School, Renovation and HVAC replacement, last replaced 1996, cost 51 million dollars
    17. Pointers Run Elementary School, renovation, 20 million dollars
    18. St Johns Lane Elementary School, HVAC replacement, , 16 million dollars
    19. Wilde Lake High School, HVAC and boilers replacement.  Cost 5.5 million dollars.
  3. New school construction is needed for our country’s rapid development and continuous student enrollment increase. 
  4. Maintenance funding is needed to provide a safe and pleasant working and learning environment. 
  5. Missing either new school funding or the maintenance funding will lead us to a more dire situation since we don’t see any relief coming soon:  future county revenue projection is slowing down and the student enrollment keeps increasing due to fast housing development across the whole county. 

Second, let’s talk about the operating budget. We are looking forward that a hold-harmless number (maintaining FY21 funding level) should be maintained. We did see the enrollment dip because of the pandemic. However, we should expect the student will come back in the fall when we expect HCPSS will have full five-day in-classroom instruction. We should have this confidence that HCPSS will continue to provide quality education to attract parents and students to come to our school. 

Third, over the last three budget cycles, HCPSS has realigned and reduced spending considerably by eliminating positions, increasing class sizes and cutting programs to balance our budget. We can only do so much with limited funding. 

Finally, I strongly believe and propose a solution:  our county’s capital project funding ,operating budget funding and our county’s planning and zoning (by the way, I mean HoCo by Design or the general plan) should always put HCPSS in the center of every decision. 

Proposal for MOE formula for deferred maintenance

 I also propose that we create an MOE (maintenance of effort) for deferred maintenance too, which will hold our county executive and county council accountable for our school system’s maintenance funding.  Once a current aging HVAC system fails catastrophically and no replacement parts will be available due to the old aging system, we have no wiggle room to defer them any longer. The longer we kick the can further away, the higher cost it needs in the future. Keeping deferring them is to cheat ourselves and jeopardize our short term and long term financial health. Past decisions not funding them sufficiently and aggregating to such a large number should be a waking call for us all.

More than 90% of our county’s tax comes from personal income tax and property tax. We should value our parents’ trust in our education system. So all stakeholders, including the county executive, county council and the school board should work hard, both on the funding side and planning side to maintain HCPSS’s reputation. 

Thank you.