The Howard County Board of Education adopted its operating budget request for the 2019–20 school year, totaling $972.7 million. The request represents a $25.7 million reduction to the superintendent’s budget proposal.

The budget request includes funding to meet board obligations that include negotiated agreements, increases in employee benefit costs, and additions to staffing and other cost increases associated with enrollment growth. The request also addresses several priorities that the board considers critical, including better support for minority and international students and families through the addition of new liaison positions, and a new position to enhance school-level outreach, improve interpretation and translation support, and help schools improve parent engagement among diverse communities.

The request also provides one-time funding to move forward board priorities for school attendance areas and start times. Funding includes $710,000 for a redistricting consultant to support community engagement, provide impartial data analysis, scenario development, and support the Attendance Area Committee and public feedback processes. Additional funding of $400,000 is allocated to upgrade transportation software and begin the process to consider later school start times.

The budget also provides sufficient funding to begin a long-range process to address the high priority needs identified in the superintendent’s budget proposal, including new staff positions to accelerate the implementation of restorative practices and ensure equitable learning opportunities throughout the school system, and additional positions and resources to better support students receiving special education services and those facing poverty, mental health issues and other significant challenges.

Allocations for essential, yet long deferred maintenance projects, and to address a critical shortage of staff to support student transportation, are also included.

The board also adopted a fiscal 2020 Capital Budget Request totaling $92.3 million, a 2021–2025 Capital Improvement Program Request totaling $626.9 million and a 2020–2029 Long Range Master Plan totaling $1,131.6 million. Details of the Operating and Capital budget requests can be found online. The board will submit its budget requests to Howard County Executive Calvin Ball in early March.