School Board Presents Spending Plan To County

SNOW HILL — During this week’s Worcester County Commissioners meeting, the Board of Education presented its annual budget request to the commission as well as asking for funds to relocate temporary classrooms.

Also, March was designated by proclamation and representatives from Coastal Hospice updated the assembly on plans for its newest proposed location in Berlin.

School Budget Presented

Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes and Board of Education President Bob Hulburd approached the commissioners with a detailed account of the Board of Education’s proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year.

“Basically, we want to thank you for all of your support in the past and for your continued support,” Hulburd said.

Before getting to the actual presentation, Hulburd, took a moment to stress the economic realities the school system is currently dealing with.

“We’re asking our people to do more with less all the time,” he said.

In a written letter to the commission, several goals were presented that the Board of Education will attempt to reach over the course of the next year. These include maintaining small class sizes, recruiting, hiring and retaining qualified teachers and staff, and providing all necessary materials, textbooks and equipment, among other things.

Andes then presented a PowerPoint reinforcing familiar concepts about the school system, including the fact that Worcester is currently ranked third overall out of the 24 systems in Maryland.

The presentation stressed that teachers and staff were having to go a third straight year without any kind of salary increase and that the county was dropping toward the middle of the pack in regards to offering a competitive starting salary. Andes warned that the issue would have to be dealt with eventually if Worcester wanted to remain one of the highest ranked school systems in the highest ranked state for education in the country.

However, the salary problem was not something addressed in next year’s budget. Andes asked that the commission think very hard on the budget the board had submitted, as nearly three-quarters of funding for the school system comes from the county level.

No action was taken regarding the budget Tuesday and Andes reminded the commission that the board wouldn’t even be positive on what kind of funding it would be getting from the state until early April.

Classroom Relocations Discussed

After presenting the budget, Andes remained in front of the commission to discuss the possible relocation of temporary class rooms from Pocomoke High School (PHS) to Snow Hill High School (SHHS).

Construction work taking place at PHS is entering its final phase and the temporary classrooms located at the site will need to be moved to clear room.

“We can’t finish the project with those portables there,” Andes informed the commission.

Luckily, SHHS is currently in need of portable classrooms. Instead of purchasing brand new ones, Andes suggested that the units be moved from PHS to SHHS. While it would save money overall, there would still be several costs associated with moving the portables. An estimated $230,000 would be required once all was said and done. However, not all of that would be needed at once.

While the commissioners were hesitant to promise funding since the 2012 budget is still unsure at this point, they recognized the need to move the units and agreed to fund the move, deciding to work out the exact amount of funding needed later, since the portable classrooms would not need to be moved until July.

March Proclamations

The meeting began with the issuing of two proclamations. First, March was recognized as National Woman’s History Month by the county.

March was also identified as National Red Cross Month as well, with special consideration being given to the chapter that serves Worcester County and then rest of the Lower Eastern Shore. Last year, the local Red Cross dealt with 239 “incidents” involving 1800 people across five counties, including Worcester.

Coastal Hospice Plans Discussed

Before adjourning, the commissioners were updated on the progress of the new Coastal Hospice facility coming to the county.

President Alane Capen and Director of Development Maureen McNeill presented some information about the new hospice location as well as a preliminary design. All in all, the commissioners seemed pleased to have Coastal Hospice moving to the new, likely Berlin, location sometime in the near future.

“I can’t say enough about you,” said Commissioner Virgil Shockley.

Because Worcester County contributes approximately one-third of Coastal Hospice’s patients, Capen explained that looking to open a location in Berlin seemed like a logical step.

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