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Dance's Operating Budget Highlights Population Growth, Curriculum Changes

The school system superintendent is requesting a $1.3 billion operating budget—a $41.9 million increase from the previous year.

School system Superintendent Dallas Dance said much of his $1.3 billion fiscal year budget request is intended to fund the manpower needed to accommodate projected student population growth and curriculum changes.

"Eighty-five percent [of the budget] will go toward people," Dance said.

The request, which is a $41.9 million or 3.3 percent increase from the fiscal year 2013 request, was presented to the Board of Education during a Tuesday night meeting. The board will vote on the budget to present to county officials on February 5.

The operating budget request is the first for Dance, who started his tenure in July 2012.

Schools officials said at a Tuesday afternoon press briefing that they are anticipating more than 6,200 additional students to enroll in county school over the next five years, including approximately 1,400 in the upcoming academic year. Enrollment for the current school year is 107,033.

The most recent figures from the school system show that the education cost per student in Baltimore County was $12,987, versus a state average of $13,297, in fiscal year 2010.

To manage the growth, Dance said he intends to add about 100 teaching positions to the existing 8,792, and six guidance counselor positions to the existing 269—if budget requests are met. It's still being determined where those staff members would be based.

The superintendent said only two new administrators would be hired, both for the office of safety and security. That department is headed by Dale Rauenzahn, a 36-year school system employee who was appointed executive director in October 2012.

In total, $1,109,987,184 would go toward salaries and wages of school system staff.

Funds would also be dedicated to transitioning to the Common Core State Standards, updating to a "digitized" curriculum and reducing achievement gaps, Dance said.

"Because Baltimore County is such a diverse county—there are great schools in our county, there are schools that need improvement," he said. "So we have to make sure we're closing the achievement gap but not bringing schools down."

A breakdown of the budget provided by school officials shows that, employee pay aside, $10,319,643 of the budget request would go toward equipment, $45,802,603 for supplies and materials, $77,077,663 for contracted services and $80,918,475 for other charges.

The budget can be seen in greater detail on the Baltimore County Public Schools website.

School officials said the request reflects maintenance of effort as required by state law.

The Board of Education approved the superintendent's approximately $72 million capital budget request, which was notable for requesting funding for air conditioning infrastructure at county schools, in October 2012. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Monday that school construction is one of his priorities for the 2013 General Assembly.

A public hearing for the operating budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at West Towson Elementary School.

M. Sullivan January 10, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Oddly enough, Evets seems to have deleted all his comments on this topic. Could it be that the BCPS Secret Police got to him?
Concerned Mom January 10, 2013 at 10:38 PM
You want to talk about BCPS employees who are underpaid, let's talk about Additional Adult Assistants who work with special needs kids- some of whom are extremely difficult to work with. They are paid $9.32 an hour with absolutely no pay raises ever, no matter how many years they do this job and get absolutely NO benefits whatsoever. Also, these assistants have no formal training and are often assigned 2 and 3 very needy kids to help during the day. When the school is closed for any reason or they are sick, they don't get paid. They are also not included in any official emails that are sent to the other staff members in the school. An aid who sits on the school bus and simply puts kids in their seats and rides the bus with them, gets paid more than an assistant who works with kids all day long. They also get full BCPS benefits and regular pay raises. Is that fair? I think not! Who is advocating for these underpaid and overworked assistants? The answer is, nobody.
FIFA January 10, 2013 at 10:49 PM
As I have said many times before, I have no desire for an unqualified elected school board, the requirements to be elected are solely age and did you pay a filing fee. The "cure" is worse than the "illness" in my opinion.
Buzz Beeler January 11, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Great comment. We see this in our military where many casualties of war are left waiting for help and are often forgotten. We focus far too often on the spotlight and forget the shadows and those who must live and work there. In a nutshell we saw this action in the county executives lucrative pension decision which he spearheaded. We also saw this type of conduct in the last superintendent whose name I have gleefully forgotten. These special needs students and those who work with them deserve so much more. Dr. Chance are you listening to our voices?
Karl January 11, 2013 at 02:21 PM
I'm in total agreement Meg. A hybrid board will still be controlled by the Governor. It surprises me that everyone got off on a jag about senior administrators' salaries. I'm want to know why Eastwood Elementary School is being closed when school enrollment is expected to increase 1.3% next year, and increase 5.8% over the next five years, 6,200 students. Assuming that most of these additional students will be in elementary schools, that's an average increase of 58 students per school. (That's assuming BCPS projections are correct. In recent years they have woefully underestimated student population increases.) Regardless, the County Executive and BCPS don't appear to be working together.

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