Salary increases, a comprehensive elementary reading program, and additional mental health and student support programs are among Superintendent Kimberly A. Hill’s top priorities in a $411 million budget proposal submitted to the Board of Education on Jan. 14.
Hill’s proposal includes a $17.9 million, or 4.6 percent increase, that focuses on students, classrooms and schools, and adds teachers to support a growing student population. The budget requests $12.1 million in additional funding from the county and $6.9 million from the state. State funding will not be final until the end of the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session in April.
There is $8.8 million in reserve for collective bargaining, including salary increases and competitive teacher salaries to help with teacher retention. Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) negotiates with two employee groups — the Education Association of Charles County (EACC) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) —between January and April. The proposal also includes implementation of the State’s minimum wage increase.
“Charles County Public Schools is a people business. The majority of CCPS revenue — 81 percent — goes to salaries and benefits for employees. Over the past two years, with the backing of the Board of Education and funding from the Charles County Commissioners and the State, we have been able to make our starting salary for beginning teachers competitive, restore back STEPs for employees, and adjust our certificated salary scales to help with teacher retention,” Hill said.
Other budget highlights include:
- a $2 million increase for student transportation, which would address the addition of 44 bus replacements and three new CCPS buses to meet the need for student population growth and special programs;
- a $1.7 million request to expand mental health programs for students and includes hiring 16 certificated teachers to staff secondary therapeutic intervention programs, three psychologists and two web-based programs to enhance social and emotional learning for students;
- $1.3 million to hire 17 additional teachers to handle a projected enrollment increase of 408 full-time equivalent students. The addition of teachers is based on a 25:1 student to teacher ratio; and
- $700,000 to fund “Into Reading,” a comprehensive reading program that addresses all components of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Funding would allow CCPS to fully implement the program for students in kindergarten through second grade. CCPS is piloting the program, which focuses heavily on writing as well as reading, at Billingsley Elementary School this school year.
The proposal also includes 5-cent breakfast and 10-cent lunch price increases for students. The elementary breakfast cost rises to $1.35 and the lunch price will be $2.80. Secondary school students will pay $1.50 for breakfast and $3.05 for lunch. Increases are guided by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
The Board of Education has scheduled a public hearing on the Superintendent’s proposed budget on Jan. 27, 6 p.m., at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building in La Plata. A budget work session will immediately follow the public hearing. The budget proposal is available at https://www.ccboe.com/index.php/budget.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 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 Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, 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.