Air conditioning is being blamed for debilitating cuts to school budgets even though Dr. Dance has been upfront about redirecting this money towards STAT.
If the County Council approves BCPS’ budget, schools will receive $11,205,049 less for instructional materials, supplies, field trips and assemblies for the 2016-17 school year than they received for the 2014-15 school year. These cuts will become deeper each year. According to Dr. Dance, “Once fully implemented in Fiscal Year 20, more than 1/4 of the [STAT] program’s ongoing cost of $63,000,000 will have been redirected from the Operating Budget.” Where will the other 3/4 will come from to lease those devices?
Middle and High School budgets have been siphoned to pay for Elementary School devices. High schools will receive $5,800,307 less than they received for the 2014-15 school year and middle schools will receive $2,998,449 less.
These cuts were proposed on January 5th, before the Board of Ed voted to add $10,000,000 to the Operating Budget for air conditioning on January 19th (which could have installed portable units in every classroom by August 2016.) The County Executive refused this portable AC request, so this is certainly not to blame for cuts to school operating budgets.
At the January 19th Operating Budget work session, Board Member Mike Collins objected to these budget cuts, but Dr. Dance said the 20 principals he spoke with were fine with them. Ann Miller, Kathleen Causey and June Eaton were the only Board members who voted against the budget.
Please see budget documents below:
These are examples given by teachers about what is lost in these cuts: novels, supplies (poster paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners, copy paper), SAT prep materials, AP materials, professional development for AP teachers to be able to teach, redesigned college-level classes, and much more. Some departments have run out of money mid-year and there will be larger cuts next year.
The County does not purchase novels–they come out of the school budgets and with school budgets being cut, these will be cut, too. Also, the curriculum keeps changing and new novels are needed to accommodate these changes. Many middle and high school students do not have access to computers at home and there are often no online access during the school day. One teacher noted, it is impossible to read textbook pages with sidebars and footnotes on a phone. Any copies made by teachers are made on paper they buy after a small amount because paper is now limited.