Wicomico School Board OKs Budget

SALISBURY – School leaders in Wicomico County adopted a $213.4 million proposed budget this week that includes additional funding for instruction, teaching positions and salaries.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Board of Education unanimously approved the proposed consolidated current expense budget for fiscal year 2021. The proposed budget, totaling $213,428,245, includes $47.68 million in county appropriations, $160.06 million in state aid and $5.69 million in other revenue sources.

Comptroller Jesse Reid said the school system is expecting an additional $1.5 million, or 3.3%, in maintenance of effort funding from the county, an additional $3.8 million, or 2.4%, in state aid, and an additional $1.4 million in other revenue sources.

“This gives us a grand total of $6.769 million over the current fiscal year,” he said. “Unfortunately, not all of that increase was able to go toward new requests because we have something called the mandatory cost of doing business.”

Reid said the costs for operations, health insurance and pensions have increased by $2.58 million for the coming fiscal year. He noted, however, $2.44 million in budget reductions will cover most of the additional expenses.

“We only ended up needing to use approximately $144,000 of this new revenue after accounting for these budget reductions,” he said. “One of those budget reductions this year was the elimination of the subsidy to the food service program. It’s been self-sufficient for the last several years now … That allows us to use those funds for other things.”

Reid said the remaining $6.6 million in additional funds would be used to finance new budget requests related to Superintendent Donna Hanlin’s strategic plan for Wicomico County Public Schools.

“It is the school system’s vision to use that $6.624 million toward the four priorities of Imagine 2022,” he said.

The first priority, to ensure students are reading on grade level by grade three, calls for additional teaching positions and instructional materials at a total of more than $301,000. The second priority, to ensure college and career readiness, calls for more teaching positions and program specialists at more than $995,000.

The third priority, to ensure all schools are safe for learning, calls for additional social workers and seven new deans of students at a total of more than $777,000. The final priority, to attract and maintain a high-performing workforce, calls for an additional $4.549 million for salaries and benefits.

Reid also noted the proposed budget also lists one-time funding requests totaling $901,720 related to technology, safety and maintenance.

The board voted 7-0 this week to approve the proposed budget, which will go 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.