Ocean City Today

Maintenance of effort not enough this year

Schools need more than state mandated minimum to fund salaries, programs
By Brian Gilliland | Mar 08, 2018

(March 9, 2018) Ahead of the formal delivery of the proposed Worcester County Board of Education fiscal year 2019 budget to the county, expected on April 3, Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor delivered two notices to the county commissioners this week, both of which were accepted.

In the first, Taylor states the schools’ new budget does not contain any items that are non-recurring costs, which are generally described as unusual charges, expenses or losses from a business.

The second is the maintenance-of-effort calculation. By state law, counties are not allowed to spend less on schools than they did during the previous year. This stops counties from balancing their budgets by slashing education funding.

Taylor said the maintenance of effort total for fiscal 2019 would require an increase of about $1.25 million to the $108 million spending proposal.

“As we have discussed, funding at this level will not allow the board of education to provide salary increases and maintain existing instructional programs,” Taylor wrote in a letter to the county dated Feb. 27.

Neither Taylor nor any board of education staff was present at the time.

The budget includes more than $1.6 million in employee salary increases, which include step increases on employee pay scales and cost-of-living adjustments.

The commissioners have also asked school system officials to contribute to post-employment pensions this year.

To make this happen, school officials have transferred $75,000 from instructional salary retirements.

County appropriations make up more than 81 percent of the budget and Worcester County schools will receive more than $19 million in state aid this year, which is a $33,367 increase from 2018.

In addition, the budget shows an estimated 5 percent increase in insurance costs, $129,586 is estimated on payroll taxes from the salary increase and a $37,931 increase in retirement expenses.

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