2023 Quarter Billion Plus Dollar Budget: St. Mary's schools fall short $2.8M

2023 budget averages out to $14,576 per student


County Times Newspapers

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (April 7, 2022)—Superintendent Dr. J. Scott Smith said last week that his administration would take a dual approach to solving a $2.8 million budget shortfall in the school budget.

"There's always cost cutting that need to be considered," Smith told The County Times this week. "Our biggest cost increase is our fuel costs both in diesel fuel and in our electrical bills.

"There are also an extra $1.3 million in pension costs than what we had anticipated."

Smith said the system had sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, asking for a supplemental budget appropriation to bridge the gap but "I'm not sure it will get much traction." Smith said the system might have to adjust the timing for purchasing of some software and technology programs while cutting out travel and conference expenses.

The total proposed budget for fiscal 2023 is $254.8 million, or about $17.3 million greater than the current adopted budget.

"This leaves us exceptionally tight," Smith told the Board of Education at a March 23 business meeting. "We will not be moving into next year with any kind of undesignated fund balance whatsoever.

"We are deeply appreciative that the [county] commissioners started off the budget process by saying 'You will have a fully funded negotiated agreement [with teachers and administrators unions]."

Commissioners also funded half of the requests for the school system's transportation department, Smith said.

"We're still going back into our budget and trying to scrape out $2.8 million," Smith told the board. "That's a lot."

There was a certain excitement, Smith said, when the commissioners decided to push more funding to the system, but it was short-lived.

"The budget is never, ever done," the superintendent said. "And we'll be pinching pennies throughout.

"We scrubbed out all the extra positions; there are no extra things in this budget."

Smith said the school system would exhaust all other options in the search for additional revenue before asking for assistance from the county government.

As of March 22 the commissioners had about $3 million in excess budget revenues as well as $8.8 million in available fund balance, Smith noted during the March 23 meeting.

RELATED INFORMATION:

St. Mary's County Public Schools Superintendent's Recommended Budget FY 2023
www.smcps.org/forms/fiscal-services-1/budget-office/810-fy2023-superintendents-recommended-budget/file

For more local stories from the County Times newspapers, visit countytimes.somd.com or find a copy on local news stands.

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