The Wicomico County Board of Education at a special meeting on Tuesday, June 26, approved the Fiscal Year 2013 Consolidated Current Expense Budget for the budget year beginning July 1.
The Board of Education approved the Consolidated Current Expense Budget of almost $175.5 million, an increase of nearly $6.9 million over the previous year’s budget. The increase is largely due to a $5.5 million boost in state aid.
The unrestricted portion of the school system’s budget is $162.5 million, a budget level that is 4.3% more than last year. The Board is appreciative of the County Executive and the Wicomico County Council for a 2.22% increase in county funding for FY 2013. This $803,108 increase (part of a total county allocation of $37 million) exceeds the Maintenance of Effort level for the first time since FY 2009 and will enable the school system to avoid cuts that could have affected direct face-to-face instruction and services for students. Included in this increase is the county’s additional allocation of $79,170 for Textbooks and Instructional Supplies, funding which will be put to good use in every classroom in Wicomico County.
Several other factors made this balanced budget possible:
• State funding for the Unrestricted Current Expense Budget at a level $5.3 million higher than the previous year, with growth in most state revenue line items including funding for Compensatory Education (based on Wicomico’s increasing percentage of students eligible for free and reduced meals), Foundation Programs, Limited English Proficiency, and Aging Schools.
• Utilization of $3.1 million in federal aid from the 2009 Education Jobs Fund, a one-time federal grant that must be used by September 30, 2012. These federal funds will not be available for the FY 2014 budget.
• A cut catalogue totaling nearly $2.5 million in reductions to existing budget areas, with cuts agreed on after months of discussion. The largest item is $1.16 million from the Voluntary Retirement Incentive Option (VRIO) to encourage staff members at the higher end of the salary scale to retire, resulting in salary savings due to employee turnover.
• Budget realignments totaling almost $5 million. Budget managers were required to evaluate their expenditures and their needs and explore realignments of existing funds before requesting any new funds.