School funding was a major topic of discussion during a public hearing held by Queen Anne’s County Commissioners on the proposed FY 2016 budget.
As reported by The Star Democrat,
Queen Anne’s County Superintendent of Schools Carol Williamson made a case for increased school funding above maintenance of effort. She said the board of education had two priorities in mind for its budget: compensate the employees and keep class sizes as low as possible while maintaining the instructional programs.
In order for the board to honor its commitment to its three-step contract program for employees, at the board’s projected funding level from the commissioners, it would need to reduce its teaching force by about 28 teaching positions, which in turn would increase class size, she said.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the county’s proposed budget is $124.5 million and makes no changes to property or income tax rates.
The current property tax rate is 0.8471 per $100 of assessed value. Because property assessments have decreased, the constant yield rate to produce the same amount of income would increase the property tax rate to 0.8516 per $100 of assessed value, but the commissioners are proposing to keep the rate at its current level. The loss in property tax revenue is more than made up by higher income tax revenues, commissioners noted.
School Board Vice President Beverly Kelley asked testified during the hearing.
“We ask you continue to provide funding for our capital requests and please allow us to prioritize these areas we feel are most urgent at the time,” Kelley said. “We believe that preparing our students for the future requires a clear understanding and acknowledgement of what they will face in their world and then we need to identify what is needed to meet their needs and, in turn, the county needs to meet their responsibility to adequately fund those needs.”
In response to the school board’s plea, Commissioner Jim Moran asked if they could provide a list of what they would rather see funded. The school board responded that they could.
Queen Anne’s County Commissioners plan to adopt the FY 2016 budget on May 26.