Welcome to budget season for FY 2021 where I bet some of you can sing the song along with me–and until Cecil County comes up with a more sustainable way to fund its schools this song will play like a broken record.
The best way I can explain the situation for Cecil County Public Schools
Even if nothing changed from year to year, if expenses for things like utilities and supplies remained the same, even if they kept the exact same number of employees in the exact same jobs, the school system’s expenses would increase every year by several million dollars <gasp> …because the school system needs to honor the salary increases it has negotiated with its employees.
There is nothing scandalous about this fact. In corporate America, annual budgets include a line item for salary increases because most of us expect some type of increase every year and CCPS does the same.
Cecil County Public Schools remains one of the largest employers in the county with over 2,000 employees and most of those employees are represented by unions who negotiate multi-year contracts with the school system.
That means that every year before one department enters a budget request for a single pencil, the school system knows it needs a certain increase in its budget just to cover the salaries of its employees.
But that’s if nothing changed from year to year which isn’t reality
The reality is that the student population has changed with more students requiring more expensive services:
- Special education—Cecil County now ties Baltimore City and Allegany County for the highest percentage of student population receiving special education services with 17.1% of the county’s 14,592 students identified. This equates to 2,497 children.
- Transportation–One of the biggest contributors to increased costs in this area is the state law that requires the school system to provide homeless students transportation to their “school of origin” in order to maintain a sense of continuity in their education and environment. Makes sense, I agree with the concept but it costs more money.
- Psychological services–The societal issues we observe in our community at large reverberate into our schools and result in children who need specialized care.
Time to advocate for education funding in Cecil County
Back to the broken record–every year I ask you to do the same things to advocate for education funding in Cecil County because our advocacy is required for every budget season. Maybe one day we won’t have to go to the county to plead for adequate funding but that time hasn’t arrived.
Honestly, the county has heard similar presentations from the school system for years and now those county officials also know what I will say when I show up at an event or send them an email so they’ve become somewhat deaf to us, but the one thing that continues to work is when new community members share their personal stories. When you tell them your experiences about education in Cecil County, we stand a better chance of making a difference. You don’t have to be an eloquent speaker (you can always send an email) and your story doesn’t have to be profound, it only has to be a glimpse into the significant roles our schools play in our community.
Ways to advocate
Feb 11 at 6 PM–County Executive’s Citizen Public Input Session on the FY 2021 Budget
The event will be livestreamed on the the county website.
If you are unable to attend but would like to submit written comments:
Mr. Al Wein, Director of Administration, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 200 Chesapeake Blvd, Elkton, MD 21921, no later than Friday, February 14, 2020
If you prefer to call, the phone number is 410-996-5202