Superintendent Presents FY2025 Draft General Fund Budget
Posted January 17, 2024
Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) Superintendent Dr. David Sovine presented his FY25 Draft Budget to the Board of Education during a public work session on January 16, 2024. He stated the strictly needs-based proposal was developed following a line-by-line review of the current budget, which was undertaken to help ensure that each dollar spent is having the greatest impact on students.
The proposal supports initiatives to meet the growing needs of students and addresses the budget priorities adopted by the Board in September, 2023. Those priorities include:
- Salary compensation and staff retention
- Safety, security, and mental health supports
- Meeting the requirements of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future
- Combating inflation
The Superintendent’s Draft Budget totals $360,318,715. This represents a 5.91% increase over the current fiscal year budget.
Sovine shared statistics that demonstrate notable growth in student and community needs. In the last three years, including the current school year, WCPS has seen a 21% increase in students who are eligible for free and reduced priced meals (FARM), a 15% increase in students with disabilities, and a 64% increase in students who receive English Learner (EL) services.
“The needs of our student population are growing in the most complex and arduous areas, thus adding to the urgency and complexity of the FY25 budget process,” Sovine says. “As those needs increase, so too do the demands on our staff.”
SALARY COMPENSATION AND STAFF RETENTION
When addressing the Board of Education’s top priority for FY25, salary compensation and staff retention, Sovine discussed the need for WCPS to provide a salary increase that is comparable to local government raises and regional education system employers. He proposed an allocation of $10 million to the salary resource pool, which would account for approximately a five (5) percent salary enhancement for all of WCPS’ approximately 3,500 employees. Sovine also shared that 70% of WCPS employees have a home address in Washington County, which underscores the impact of providing a deserving salary enhancement that also invests in our community.
Sovine adds, “I am so grateful to have the honor of working alongside incredible professionals who put their heart and soul into seeing students succeed, no matter the obstacles. I am extremely proud of the work we have done together. Our employees are truly deserving of a meaningful salary increase that will help us close the gap with our local and regional competitors. They deserve to know they are valued, and they are a critical part of our school families. We cannot move our community forward to a better future without them.”
SAFETY, SECURITY, AND MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS
Sovine proposed funding staff positions that would support safety, security, and mental health in schools, particularly in the area of special education. He also discussed a plan for the InnovatED Learning Center, which will include WCPS’ current online learning program, the Academy of Blended Learning Education (ABLE) for secondary students, as well as Antietam Academy, the Family Center, Evening High, and the Twilight program.
“The InnovatED Learning Center is an example of staff’s ability to reduce the budget without sacrificing the services provided to our students,” Sovine says. “The InnovatED Learning Center will represent the merger of several programs, making them more cost-effective without jeopardizing the opportunities they offer to students.” WCPS staff is scheduled to make a formal presentation to the Board of Education regarding the InnovatED Learning Center at the February 20, 2024, public business meeting.
MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE BLUEPRINT FOR MARYLAND’S FUTURE
In order to meet the requirements of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, Sovine included an additional $3.24 million in his draft budget to ensure the district meets the state’s requirement that 75 percent of per pupil funding follow the student. Some of the positions included in the proposed budget are currently making a positive impact in schools with the assistance of federal grant dollars and need to be paid from the General Fund in FY25 to be sustained.
Under the Blueprint, WCPS is supporting high school students enrolled in dual credit courses through Hagerstown Community College by paying for each student’s tuition, textbooks, and fees. WCPS expects to invest more than $2.2 million in the initiative this year, and student interest is increasing. WCPS anticipates nearly $500,000 more will be needed to fund the program in FY25.
When addressing inflationary increases, Sovine anticipates the most significant escalations in costs for FY25 include school bus purchases and operational supplies.
Sovine says, “As we continue through the budget considerations over the next several months, I encourage members of the community to get informed and involved in the process. Public education is an investment in our community’s future, and it’s important that taxpayers understand how their investment in our students is being utilized to enhance and improve the quality of life here in Washington County.”
Information on the Superintendent’s Draft Budget for FY2025 is available at www.wcpsmd.com.
- Academy of Blended Learning Education (ABLE)
- Antietam Academy
- Barbara Ingram School for the Arts
- Bester Elementary
- Boonsboro Elementary
- Boonsboro High
- Boonsboro Middle
- Boyd J. Michael, III Technical High
- Cascade Elementary
- Claud E. Kitchens Outdoor School at Fairview
- Clear Spring Elementary
- Clear Spring High
- Clear Spring Middle
- E. Russell Hicks Middle
- Eastern Elementary
- Emma K. Doub Elementary
- Fountain Rock Elementary
- Fountaindale Elementary
- Greenbrier Elementary
- Hancock Elementary
- Hancock Middle Senior High School
- Hickory Elementary
- Jonathan Hager Elementary
- Lincolnshire Elementary
- Marshall Street School/Job Development Program
- Maugansville Elementary
- North Hagerstown High
- Northern Middle
- Old Forge Elementary
- Pangborn Elementary
- Paramount Elementary
- Pleasant Valley Elementary
- Potomac Heights Elementary
- Rockland Woods Elementary
- Ruth Ann Monroe Primary
- Salem Avenue Elementary
- Sharpsburg Elementary
- Smithsburg Elementary
- Smithsburg High
- Smithsburg Middle
- South Hagerstown High
- Springfield Middle
- Western Heights Middle
- Williamsport Elementary
- Williamsport High