Southern Maryland legislators expressed their support for education at the Board of Education’s annual legislative breakfast while learning about the school system’s economic impact and special education challenges.
“You are doing everything about right, right now,” said Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller, who represents District 27 which includes part of Charles County. Miller said legislators are interested in raising the level of quality of teachers, and using the best teachers to focus on the kids with the highest needs. “That’s the future,” he told the Board and Superintendent.
The annual breakfast is a time for the Board of Education and Charles County’s legislative delegation to share information, concerns and educational issues before the Maryland General Assembly convenes in January.
Superintendent Kimberly Hill introduced a presentation showing the economic value of Charles County Public Schools (CCPS). “People always hear how education is a drain on taxpayers’ money, but what does that investment lead to?” Hill said. The study, conducted by Beacon, an independent research group from Salisbury University, shows CCPS is a major contributor to Charles County’s economy. Every $1 dollar from the CCPS operating budget that is spent and retained in the local economy results in total county spending of $1.81. CCPS makes an impact as the largest employer in Charles County, with nearly 2,375 of its 3,542 employees living in the county. Every CCPS job supports an additional .49 jobs in the local economy, according to the report.
The study also explores the economic value of academic degrees awarded and the impact CCPS has on reducing public costs while increasing economic development opportunities. A complete copy of the Beacon report can be found at http://www.ccboe.com/aboutus/fastfacts.php.
Hill directed the discussion to the increase in the number of special education students enrolling in CCPS. Hill said CCPS provides a pathway for students to careers and college, as well as offers a safety net for kids. Special education, she said, is one of those safety nets.
Amy Hollstein, deputy superintendent, explained the costs associated with providing services to both special education and non-English speaking students. “Last year, Charles County was No. 1 in the state for English Language Learners (ELL) coming into the school system.” Hollstein told the stories of three special education students, showing how different levels of services can cost between $14,699 per student for most special education students to $42,296 per special education student needing the highest level of care. The average operating cost per pupil for fiscal year 2017 is $13,490.
During the past five years, CCPS has enrolled 600 additional special education students with an increase of 200 more students this year than last year. Hollstein said the school system has managed the increased special education costs for the past several years, but the expenses are becoming greater than CCPS can handle in its existing operating budget.
Board Chairman Virginia McGraw reminded legislators that the Board and staff are available for consult on any education issue that might surface in the coming legislative session.
Members of the Charles County legislative delegation, including Miller, Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Del. Edith Patterson, Del. Susie Proctor and Del. C.T. Wilson, along with Charles County Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy and Commissioner Ken Robinson, attended the meeting with the Board of Education and staff.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.
Legislative breakfast 2016