Wicomico Schools Eye $220M Budget

SALISBURY – The Wicomico County Board of Education this week adopted a $220 million proposed budget for fiscal year 2020.

On Tuesday, the school board voted unanimously to approve the $220,816,643 budget. The spending plan includes $7.58 million in funding to launch Achieve! 3.0, Superintendent Donna Hanlin’s strategic priorities for the school system.

“It is well aligned and designed based upon the resources we believe we need to implement in the next iteration of Imagine 2022 where we are emphasizing the three strategic priorities,” she said, “students entering kindergarten ready to learn, increasing the graduation rate with a real focus this year on the social, emotional and behavioral needs of students and our English language learner population, and recruiting and retaining a high performing workforce.”

Jesse Reid, the board of education’s comptroller, said the $220 million budget includes a special revenue budget of nearly $18 million and a general fund budget of $202.8 million, which includes $46.15 million in county appropriations.

“This amount represents $800,000 above maintenance of effort in order to balance the budget and fund Dr. Hanlin’s vision for FY 2020 …,” he said. “This request represents an increase of $1.987 million, or 4.5 percent, from the previous year.”

Reid said total projected revenue will increase by $7.99 million in the coming fiscal year, which will fund $403,000 in additional mandatory operation costs not covered by budget reductions and Hanlin’s $7.58 million strategic plan.

The first priority, to increase the number of students ready to enter kindergarten, calls for three full-time positions and instructional materials at a total cost of $235,000. The second priority, to increase the graduation rate by providing social, emotional and behavioral support and English language learner support, calls for 17 full-time positions at a total cost of $1.319 million.

“It includes additional teachers for our expanding NextGen program, English for Speakers of Other Languages, or  ESOL, teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, an additional school resource officer, and a mental health coordinator,” he said.

Reid noted the last priority, to attract and retain a high performing workforce, calls for $6.032 million in funding.

“This request represents the board increase in health insurance for fiscal year 2020,” he said, “as well as the amounts needed to fund and negotiate agreements with our unions for the parameters that were set by the board.”

The board voted 6-0 to approve the budget, which will be submitted to the county executive.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.