By Caitlyn Freeman
Anne Arundel County Executive, Steuart Pittman, announced his $1.7 billion proposal for the county budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 on Wednesday, May 1st. According to Pittman’s budget brief, $733.3 million is appropriated to Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS), which accounts for 51 percent of the total county budget.
As previously reported by The Pulse, Dr. George Arlotto, AACPS Superintendent, recommended a $1.26 billion operating budget, which is a break down of the school system’s finances for a year, and a $172 million capital budget, which is a break down of the school system’s long term investments, for FY 2020. Members of the Board of Education (BOE) for AACPS revised, and adopted Arlotto’s budget recommendation during the meeting of the board on February 25th. The board deliberated on 81 total amendments to the superintendent’s budget recommendation. After their revisions, the BOE sent the recommendations to Pittman in March.
The revisions included funding for additional compensation towards a “catch up” step for eligible employees from the 2009-2010 school year, a decrease in board member compensation by $4,000, $40,000 towards funding for high school robotics clubs, and $483,200 of the county revenue to the Food and Nutrition Services State Category to be used toward organic-based meal trays in school cafeterias in order to abide by the new county bill that prohibits the use of polystyrene lunch trays.
During the meeting of the BOE on May 1st, members of the financial office for AACPS including Chief Operating Officer Alex Szachnowicz, Director of Financial Operations Matthew Stanski, and Director of Facilities Lisa Seamon-Crawford, provided an overview and analysis of Pittman’s budget proposal.
According to the documents displayed at the meeting, which Bob Mosier, Chief Communications Officer for the school system, shared in an email to The Pulse, detailing Pittman’s proposal and comparing it to the requested budgets, Pittman revised the school system’s requested $172.2 million FY 2020 capital budget to $165.1 million, reducing it by approximately $7.1 million.
Pittman’s revisions of the capital budget, according to the document, include reduced funding for Building Systems Renovations, Maintenance Backlog Reduction, Roof Replacement, Relocatable Classrooms, Barrier Free Access, Health Room Modifications, and Athletic Stadium Improvements.
The document also states that the county will not be funding School Bus Replacements, which the BOE requested $800 million for. As for Pittman’s revisions on the school system’s operating budget , AACPS requested $1.27 billion, which Pittman subtracted $5.5 million from.
In a statement, which can be found on the AACPS website, Arlotto called Pittman’s proposal a “quantum leap fourth” that he thinks will assist in addressing the expectation gap that he believes exist in the county,
“This proposal funds the vast majority of our request, provides critically needed compensation and staffing increases, and makes tremendous inroads towards reducing our infrastructure backlog. It is a huge investment in our children and our future,” Arlotto’s statement read.
The next step in the budgeting process is for the County Council to make revisions to Pittman’s proposal, in which they have 45-days to do so. Before the adoption, the Council will host a budget hearing on May 9th from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Arundel Center and another on May 13th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at North County High School. The BOE is set to adopt the budgets for FY 2020 on June 19th.