County Council Passes Budget, South County Schools Not Included
The Anne Arundel County Council finalized work on the FY 2012-13 county budget today. The budget for the county begins each year on July 1. The capital budget for six years was passed, forecasting spending priorities through 2018. The budget includes additional fees for homeowners, about $90 a year, which will be seen in the next tax assessment notice.
Anne Arundel County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kevin Maxwell praised the efforts of the County Council in finalizing the details of the budget. In a statement released to the media by Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier, Maxwell said:
“There have been many conversations over the last few weeks about how to best chart the course going forward, and the budgets adopted by the County Council today show what collaboration can do.”
Both Edgewater Elementary and Shady Side Elementary schools were on the plan submitted by the Board of Education in February. Those two schools were not on the list when County Executive John Leopold submitted his budget to the County Council in April.
Those schools were not included in the final plan by the Council, despite vehement protest from residents. Parents from the two schools launched a Facebook campaign, attended hearings and wrote letters to members of the Council urging support for rebuilding the two South County schools. As early as last week, an aide to Jerry Walker emailed parents saying that the councilman was fighting hard to get the schools reinstated. The email was posted on the Facebook page.
Unfortunately, the schools were not included in the final plan. Also off the list:
- George Cromwell Elementary;
- Jessup Elementary;
- Arnold Elementary;
- Richard Henry Lee Elementary;
- Hillsmere Elementary;
- Quarterfield Elementary;
- Rippling Woods Elementary;
- Bates Middle;
- Tyler Heights Elementary; and
- Brock Bridge Elementary.
All of those schools had been included in the Board of Education forecast, but were nixed from the Council’s and the County Executive’s plan.
In total, county schools received $977 million, which was $12 million more than the amount proposed by Leopold, but $9 million less than requested by the Board of Education. In April, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) ruled that the county was not making the necessary Maintenance of Effort (MOE). That is a requirement that schools spend the same (or more) per pupil each year.
Before 2012, not making Maintenance of Effort meant that schools were doubly penalized because state education dollars were withheld in counties that didn’t meet MOE. A new law passed in 2012 penalizes county executives by putting fire, police, roadways and public health funds in jeopardy if education spending requirements are not met.
In April, the MSDE ruling required the county to spend $12 million more than Leopold requested.
And that is exactly what schools got.
Included in the funding plan: Lothian Elementary School will receive $14.2 million to begin construction this fiscal year; and Central Middle School will get $9 million for open space classroom closures.
The budget will fund an additional 128 hires—62 positions in the classroom and 66 positions for teachers, teaching assistants, school counselors and pupil personnel workers. At least 40 of those positions will target reductions in class size.
Water and Wastewater Capital Fund
Also in the spending plan, Sylvan Shores will receive $500,000 to continue their transition from a private utility for water and sewage to coming online to the Anne Arundel County water and sewer system, a multi-year project that began in 2011.
The Mayo sewage reclamation facility got $500,000 to continue the collection upgrades necessary to reach pollution elimination targets in the Chesapeake Bay.
A number of South County projects were included:
- Riva Road/Governors Bridge: $595,000
- Wayson Road/Davidsonville: $53,000
- Rutland Road Fish Passage: $150,000
- Warehouse Creek Stream Restoration: $113,000
The $1.2 billion operating budget passed the County Council on a 6-1 vote. Councilman John Grasso (R-Glen Burnie) was the lone vote in opposition.
For more on the Council vote and general spending plan, visit this story by Capital Gazette reporter Allison Bourg.