Happy 2024! I wish all residents of Anne Arundel County a happy and healthy new year! Now that it’s January, the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County will be knee-deep in the budget process for 52 days until the Fiscal Year 2025 budget is struck during the February 21 Board of Education meeting.
At first blush, the draft FY2025 operating and capital budgets appear to be both balanced and realistic. I will focus on a few highlights.
Compensation - $60.5 million
This year’s recommended compensation package includes one step and a 3% cost-of-living allowance (COLA) for all employees including teachers and staff in bargaining units I through VI. As with every year, the final compensation package must be negotiated with all bargaining units. Additionally, a $17 million investment in our self-funded health insurance fund is proposed.
Student Mental Health Positions - $3.2 million
The superintendent, Dr. Mark Bedell, is recommending adding 24.5 new positions which comprise more than eight school counselors, eight school psychologists, six additional social workers and two additional pupil personnel workers. These positions will be located at the new Severn Run High School and Two Rivers Elementary School as well as in community and Title 1 schools.
Blueprint Mandates - $6.6 million
Implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future remains a top priority in order to meet the letter of the law. Funding will be focused on three of the five pillars this year – concentration of poverty, college and career readiness, and prekindergarten classes.
ESSR Funding Cliff - $7.5 million
Federal funding received during the pandemic is beginning to sunset. For programs that were supported by this funding to continue, they must be moved into the unrestricted portion of the operation budget or be discontinued. The superintendent is recommending that funding remain for classroom coverage, which pays for teacher coverage when a substitute cannot be secured, lease agreements for laptops for Unit I and Unit IV employees and cloud storage, and funds for a learning management system (LMS), Google Voice/Text services, Google Enterprise services, Google Meet, and Google Drive services.
English Language Development - $607,005
As our county continues to grow and become more diverse, English language development remains critical. The recommended FY25 budget includes funding for seven teachers in this area.
School Support - $1.6 million
Dr. Bedell has proposed expanding athletics to all middle schools across the county. This category also includes funding for virtual tutoring and virtual help, replacing a grant that previously supported these programs.
Special Education - $1.3 million
The superintendent continues to invest in our students with special needs and is recommending eight new Individualized Education Program (IEP) clerks, one transition facilitator, one birth-to-five teacher, and five occupational therapists.
The entire 423-page budget can be found online at www.aacps.org/fy2025budget. Over the next month and a half, I will be analyzing every aspect of what Superintendent Bedell has recommended, listening to constituents’ concerns, questions and ideas, and developing potential amendments to this budget. Never hesitate to reach out to me to make your voice heard, especially if you cannot attend the aforementioned budget hearings. As always, I can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 443-534-2660. I look forward to hearing from you.
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