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Baltimore County passes $2.5 billion budget with job cuts, class size changes

Baltimore County passes $2.5 billion budget with job cuts, class size changes
Baltimore County passes $2.5 billion budget with job cuts, class size changes 00:34

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore County School Board approved a $2.5 billion budget proposal.

Like many Maryland school boards, Baltimore County Public Schools is facing the need to tighten its budget as pandemic-related funding comes to an end.

Compounding financial pressures is the "Blueprint for Maryland's Future," which alters the distribution of state funds.

Maggie Domanowski, a member of the Baltimore County School Board, expressed concerns about the decision-making process. 

"It kind of in a way feels like we're blind-passing this," Domanowski said.

The budget has raised eyebrows among board members due to reassignments and the proposed elimination of around 500 positions, many of which are currently unfilled. 

"The piece I'm having a hard time understanding is the teacher positions in the high school and the middle school," said Rod McMillion, a board member.

Cindy Sexton, President of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, acknowledged the difficult decisions. 

"I don't love that we're cutting positions-I simply do not love it. But, I knew it was going to be a really tough budget," Sexton said.

Despite the cuts, Sexton views this year's budget as a "one-year anomaly" due to the sunsetting of federal COVID-19 funds. 

The budget plan anticipates an increase in average class sizes for middle and high schools, while sizes for 3rd through 5th grades are expected to decrease.

Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Chair of the Baltimore County Board of Education, reassured the board members, "Every school will have the teacher it needs. Every school will have the courses that they need. We are in tighter fiscal times."

Superintendent Dr. Myriam Rogers said that teachers will be placed according to how they're certified, and staffing would be based on enrollment. "When you have enrollment shifts, you have to move the staffing to where the students are," Rogers explained.

At a recent State Board of Education meeting, board president Clarence Crawford said blueprint implementation will bring challenges, but that the payoff will be worth it. 

"Business as usual in Maryland public education is over-it's dead," Crawford declared.

The budget is now set to be reviewed by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and the County Council.

Superintendent Rogers is scheduled to discuss the district's budget further at a media briefing tomorrow.

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