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Cecil County Graduation Rates

Throwing money at education doesn’t fix the problem

How many times have we heard someone use those words to argue against adequately funding education?

This doesn’t happen just in Cecil County or only in Maryland. This rant gets repeated across the country and online ad nauseum as if repetition and volume makes it true.

But who said public education in Cecil County was broken? Has someone showed data that points to glaring failures of the system?

Nope.

In fact, the data shows that education in Cecil County is clearly working.

During these last 5 years of nearly flat spending on education in Cecil County, Cecil County Public Schools managed to increase graduation rates while also reducing dropout rates. Did this happen by chance? No. This happened because CCPS developed metrics for measuring student success and processes for assisting students who need more support. In fact, the county developed a system of using academic profiles to identify students at risk that has been so successful that the model has been shared with other districts in the state.

Now, despite what you may have heard about the huge numbers of administrators at CCPS headquarters on Booth Street, these systems were implemented at a time when the system was forced to cut non-instructional positions due to inadequate funding. For the sake of the students, CCPS had little choice but to buckle down and do the work which they did and continue to do.

So, is throwing money at education going to fix the problem? That depends on how you define the problem.

If you define the problem as one of a system that has used its resources in the most efficient manner possible but is stretched too thin, yes, increased funding will fix the problem.

If you define the problem as a system whosefacilities are in dire need of replacement or repair, yes, increased funding will fix the problem.

Cecil County–it’s time for you to adequately and consistently fund public education in order to fix the problems you’ve caused in our schools.

The Cecil County Council will vote on the budget for FY 2016 on June 2. Please email them today to tell them that you support education funding. Not sure what to say? Here’s a letter to copy and send.

Copy and paste these email addresses:  tmoore@ccgov.org, amccarthy@ccgov.org, jbowlsbey@ccgov.org, dschneckenburger@ccgov.org, gpatchell@ccgov.org, rhodge@ccgov.org, awein@ccgov.org, cwhiteford@ccgov.org, wrobinson@ccgov.org

Sources:

Maryland Report Card-Cecil County

Cecil County Dropout Rates

Cecil County Budget Vote June 2

Cecil County Budget Vote June 2

Time is running out!

On June 2, the Cecil County Council will vote on the FY 2016 budget. If you haven’t contacted the council members yet to ask them to support adequate funding of public education, please do so now.

If you aren’t sure what to say, here’s an email you can copy and paste.

Or you can borrow something from the the letter I sent to the editor of the Cecil Whig (below):

Letter to the Editor: Originally posted on 4/8/15

Moore’s budget bucks status quo

Last month, Cecil County Executive Tari Moore presented a budget for fiscal year 2016 that blazes a trail for a new era for Cecil County.

She stood up to the status quo that has contributed to the economic and social issues that have dogged our county and recognized that fiscal restraint had become a barrier to prosperity and growth.

A key part of her proposed budget was the recognition that strong schools with adequate plans for consistent, long-term funding are critical to a thriving economy. This is a significant development because in recent years funding for public education has been a favorite target for county officials and outspoken interest groups.

At recent public forums, we’ve heard local businesses explain how they rely on the schools to supply a steady workforce of educated employees and consider the school system to be a critical factor for new employees they recruit from outside the county. At other times, economists have explained the considerable returns seen in the county’s economy from its investment in public education. And it’s an established fact that school quality greatly influences the home-buying decision and contributes to higher resale values.

Despite mountains of data that public education drives local economic activity, there are still groups pushing against adequate funding.

The Cecil County Council will host a public hearing on the topic on May 12 at 7 p.m. at Elkton High School. If you support public education, please attend the hearing or contact the council in advance of their budget vote on June 2.

Letter to Editor Cecil Whig

Hurdles to approve education budget in Cecil County

Education allies: Our work isn’t done

When Cecil County Executive Tari Moore announced her proposed budget for FY 2016, we cleared the first hurdle in the race to secure adequate funding for public education in the next fiscal year and beyond.

But the race is far from won and our work is not done.

Now the budget is in the hands of the Cecil County Council

The county council is currently holding meetings with the different agencies in the county to learn more about their plans and budgetary needs for the coming year. After those meetings, the council will hold a public hearing on the budget on May 12 before voting on the budget at the June 2 meeting. link to the budget hearing schedule

Based on the county charter, the county council can not add to the budget proposed by Ms. Moore but it can cut the budget.

Our next task: same as the last–keep up the pressure & keep telling our story

Between today and the June 2 vote, we need to continue to remind the members of the county council about the positive results our schools have produced as well as the many needs of the system. We need to impress upon them that we will continue to fight for appropriate funding for education once the budget for FY 2016 is approved.

And we, as a group, need to remain just as persistent and active as those who spend most of the year railing against our schools without ever educating themselves on the topic. While they continue to rant about the makes of the cars people drive or the “bloat” that they cry about but never identify, or parrot rhetoric from organizations outside our county, we need to continue to tell the story of the positive influences the schools have been in our communities and families.

Every voice counts!

We may not all be public speakers or able to attend county council meetings but we can each contribute to the cause by contacting our elected officials, writing letters to the local newspapers, or finding some other way to tell our story.

Here’s a letter you can use:

Send to these email addresses:  tmoore@ccgov.org, amccarthy@ccgov.org, jbowlsbey@ccgov.org, dschneckenburger@ccgov.org, gpatchell@ccgov.org, rhodge@ccgov.org, awein@ccgov.org, cwhiteford@ccgov.org, wrobinson@ccgov.org

Subject: I support the CCPS budget

As you consider the Cecil County budget for FY 2016, I encourage you to show the same courage and vision County Executive Tari Moore exhibited when she presented the proposed budget.

Our county is suffering because we have been willing to accept the status quo for too long. Fiscal restraint has become a barrier to growth and prosperity and the current situation is not sustainable.

When the economy crashed a few years ago, Cecil County Public Schools took several for the team. They cut staff and found ways to save money like installing a solar field and pilot testing 4 day work weeks during summer months in order to save on energy costs. Now it is time to work in cooperation with the school system to build a reasonable plan for meeting the needs of our schools and addressing their aging facilities.

Please approve the education budget as proposed.

Respectfully,

[your name]

Letter to Cecil County Council

Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0
letter to Tari Moore

Letter to Cecil County Executive Tari Moore

Sent to Cecil County Executive Tari Moore this morning in response to her proposed budget for FY 2016:

Thank you.

Thank you for having the courage to stand up against the status quo in Cecil County in order to do the right thing for the current and future students of Cecil County Public Schools, the system’s employees, and the families who support them.

For too long, the status quo could be better described as status no.

Thank you for pushing your team to find compromises that can begin to heal the damage inflicted on our school system and, consequently, the county at large and for having the courage to commit to a formal plan for addressing our aging school facilities.

Thank you for demonstrating that being a public servant is about serving all of the public.

A link to the FY 2016 Proposed Budget in Brief

Rooftops and Raindrops, Reprise

Rooftops and Raindrops (Reprise)

Last spring, one of the most popular articles on my site was about Cecil County continuing to deny the necessary funding for school construction and major renovations. For me, the image of students at Conowingo Elementary setting out buckets in their classrooms to catch the rain coming in through a leaky roof was both shocking and heartbreaking and I couldn’t understand why the county allowed such a situation to get that far. (Fortunately, looking at the CCPS FY 2016 Construction Budget Request, the state of Maryland is funding a roof replacement project at Conowingo.)

But this is only one example of a much bigger problem.

Ongoing Water Issues at Leeds Elementary

During the last few weeks and months, parents, teachers, and students have attended Cecil County Council meetings to talk about the facilities needs at their schools and encourage adequate funding of the CCPS budget in general. We’ve heard about ongoing water issues at Leeds Elementary that have meant up to two weeks without running water and staff members having to pour buckets of water into toilets in order to flush waste.

We’ve also heard county council members direct parents to CCPS or tell speakers that they didn’t know what the solutions are for the issues at Leeds Elementary (the 23:31 mark of this audio). Who do they think they’re kidding? I’m sure the council read the same article I did in the Cecil Whig about the school system’s plans for closing Leeds and moving students into a renovated Kenmore Elementary.

It’s time for our elected officials to stand up for our schools and work in cooperation with CCPS instead of deflecting parents who aren’t familiar with the budget process back to CCPS only to learn that the county controls the funding for such projects.

Facilities Concerns at Thomson Estates

Leeds isn’t the only school with issues. At last week’s county council meeting a mother from Thomson Estates Elementary (2:45 mark of this audio) told the council about the leaking roof and HVAC systems that left students wearing shorts in the winter and coats in the summer. (Mind you, these aren’t teenagers who dress however they please regardless of the weather; these are small children in kindergarten through fifth grade.)

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Each year, Cecil County Public Schools is required to create various reports regarding the current state of its facilities as well as future needs. They create a 5-year capital improvement program that details the needs for new construction, renovation, and replacement of schools. Once created, the plan must be submitted for approval by state and local (county) agencies.  Such a plan helps ensure that necessary and appropriate facilities are available and that an insurmountable backlog of projects doesn’t build up over time. CCPS also is required to develop an educational facilities master plan that looks at the facilities needs 10 years down the road. Sounds reasonable enough…plan your work, work your plan.

Comprehensive planning is necessary because there is typically a 4 or 5-year timeline for a school to be constructed or renovated with a multitude of approvals for the specification, design, and construction.

Required: Long-term Planning and Commitment to Projects

Unfortunately, while the school system puts together plans to address its facilities needs for five or 10 years into the future, Cecil County government has repeatedly deferred approval for much needed projects and, at least in the last two budget seasons I’ve been following, the county government seems to treat the school system’s requests as exorbitant while funding other projects in the county that many see as a luxury.

Here’s the bottom line:

Cecil County, the funding for maintaining, renovating, and building school facilities is your responsibility. CCPS depends on state and county funding and has no taxing authority. Further, for each large capital project that the county denies funding, there is generally some amount of state funding that is being left on the table (at least prior to a new governor taking office in January).

How About That Strategic Plan?

I’d like to refer you to the Fiscal Stability section of the Cecil County Strategic Plan adopted last spring:

GOAL 4: Forecast and align projected revenues and capital expenditure needs over a five-year period to strengthen the linkages between community infrastructure and the financial capacity of the County.
4.1 Adhere to statutory and self-imposed debt affordability criteria.
4.2 Provide priority consideration to the funding needs associated with the County’s Strategic Plan.
4.3 Fund the backlog of deferred maintenance projects within acceptable limits.

Hmmm. Let’s see:

  • Replacements for Chesapeake City and Gilpin Manor Elementary Schools were requested as far back as FY 2013 (3/25/15 edit: Gilpin Manor was actually included in the FY 2004 CIP) and have been repeatedly deferred. In fact, according a proposed capital plan from Cecil County Executive Tari Moore for FY 2016, the Gilpin Manor project wouldn’t start until FY 2017 which would push completion to FY 2020 and the Chesapeake City project wouldn’t start until FY 2018 with completion in FY 2021.
  • Kenmore Elementary which needs to be renovated before the students from Leeds Elementary can move there? The start date for that project would be moved out to FY 2019 with completion in FY 2022. That’s seven more years of water issues?!?
  • Renovations at Thomson Estates Elementary would be pushed off until somewhere in the far distant future.

That’s some very strategic planning right there.

Cecil County proposed CIP FY 2016 construction

Buckets: Sadly, They’re Not Just for Conowingo Elementary

If Cecil County can’t find a way to adequately fund its public schools, the least they can do is provide each student in the county with his or her own bucket which, depending on the needs of the specific school, could be useful for situations including catching rain water from roof leaks or carrying water for toilet flushing.

County Executive Tari Moore is preparing her budget recommendations now for presentation to the Cecil County Council in early April. Once the council receives the budget, they can only cut funding, not increase it. The time to contact our elected officials is now.

To make it easier, just copy these email addresses and paste them into an email: tmoore@ccgov.org, amccarthy@ccgov.org, jbowlsbey@ccgov.org, dschneckenburger@ccgov.org, gpatchell@ccgov.org, rhodge@ccgov.org, awein@ccgov.org, cwhiteford@ccgov.org, wrobinson@ccgov.org

CCPS administrators salaries

FAQ: The truth about CCPS administrators’ salaries

The topic of administration salaries keeps popping up and, while it isn’t relevant to the discussion of funding public education in Cecil County and the attempts to vilify people who are doing the jobs they were hired to do disgusts me, it is public information so here are some more facts to add to the conversation:

According to the Maryland Department of Education, Cecil County Public Schools’ superintendent Dr. D’Ette Devine’s salary is $169,868. This salary ranks 16th out of 24 school systems in the state. CCPS chief financial officer Thomas Kappra’s salary is $149,262, ranking 7th out of 16 systems with such a position.

As you can see, these salaries are in-line with those of their peers within Maryland.

Maryland Superintendent Salaries, 2013-14

Since Cecil County borders the states of Delaware and Pennsylvania and more than half of our residents commute outside the county for work, it’s appropriate to compare their salaries to those in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Delaware

  • Freeman Williams, superintendent of the Christina School District, $192,088.36 (salary plus other compensation) source
  • Matthew Burrows, superintendent of the Appoquinimink School District, 152,660.02

    Pennsylvania

    • Augustus Massaro, superintendent of the Avon Grove School District, $213,825 source
    • Barry Tomaseti, superintendent of the Kennett School District, $195,000

    Compensating Experienced Professionals

    Now, I don’t know the specifics of determining appropriate salaries for professionals such as Dr. Devine and Mr. Kappra but we can be sure the process takes into account factors like the candidate’s level of education, professional certifications, and work experience as well as the responsibility of the position for which they are being hired.
Let’s see–they’re responsible for more than 15,000 students and 2,000 employees–that’s a huge responsibility. And, if you think cutting expenses while maintaining as many jobs and services as possible and increasing performance metrics doesn’t require above average skills and talents, stop reading now because you’re more out of touch than I thought. These two are on their game–they have to be because the school system can’t fail. There hasn’t been a question I’ve asked that they haven’t been able to answer–with facts and third party support–and I ask a lot of questions.

Median Household Incomes

Those who are making this an issue in an attempt to outrage the uninformed compare these administrators’ salaries to the Cecil County median household income of $66,689. What they fail to point out is that this is considerably lower than the Maryland median income of $73,538 and Harford County median income of $80,622. source Are there families in Cecil County who are hurting financially? You bet, but you are pointing fingers in the wrong direction. Educating our children and creating communities that they want to come back to after graduating from college, where they want to buy homes and raise their children, is our best hope at improving the quality of life and economy of the county.

Higher Education isn’t a Cure-All, But it is Start

A bachelor’s degree isn’t a free pass to a higher wage but you stand a much better chance with that paper in hand. In Cecil County 22.2% of residents over 25 have at  least a bachelor’s degree, significantly lower than the Maryland state ratio of 36.8% or the Harford County ratio of 32.7%. source
If you want the children of Cecil County to succeed, you’ve got to invest in education–and compensate the professionals who make that happen.

Serving a Changing Student Population in Cecil County

While the adults are arguing about funding the Cecil County Public Schools budget, let’s talk about the most important people in this discussion–the children.

Many of the people fighting against public education funding don’t have any idea what difficulties some of our students face. The reality is that the “Leave It to Beaver” idealized nuclear family living a middle class life must seem like a fairy tale for many children in the Cecil County.

How dire are the needs of some of our children?

At Christmas, some of our schools have “giving trees” that are stocked only with requests and needs from students in their school. Not anonymous children in some inner city neighborhood but children who sit in classes with and play on sports teams with our children. Throughout the school year, teachers, staff, coaches, and families make individual contributions of things like clothes, cleats, or rides to and from practices or other events. When sports teams have later games, families or boosters may provide meals or snacks for the whole team because they know there are students who don’t have the means to buy anything else to eat. And these are just the few things I’m aware of; I’m sure there are countless other acts of kindness that happen in our schools. Read a teacher’s description of how poverty manifests in the classroom

What are the demographics of the students enrolled in Cecil County?

  • Total of 15,731 students (source: CCPS FY 16 Budget Basics)
  • 45% or more than 7,000 of those students qualify for free and reduced meals (FARMS).
  • 649 students are homeless. That number stunned me the first time I heard it because I immediately compared it to the enrollment at Perryville Elementary when I was active in PTA there–about 400 students–and couldn’t imagine that many children being homeless in our communities.

649! To put this number into perspective, that’s more students than:

  • Every elementary school in the county with the exception of Rising Sun Elementary. (source: CCPS FY 2014 Annual Report)
  • Four out of six middle schools
  • The entire student body at Bohemia Manor High School

Summary

As Dr. D’Ette Devine summarized at a recent board of education meeting, “Poverty has a significant influence on student achievement.” While these students face challenges at home and school and may need more support services in order be successful, the school system must legally and, more importantly, morally, give them the support necessary. True, these services come with a price tag but how much will it cost in the long run if we don’t help them succeed?

County Executive Tari Moore is preparing her budget recommendations now for presentation to the Cecil County Council at the end of March. Once the council receives the budget, they can only cut funding, not increase it. The time to contact our elected officials is now.

To make it easier, just copy these email addresses and paste them into an email: tmoore@ccgov.org, amccarthy@ccgov.org, jbowlsbey@ccgov.org, dschneckenburger@ccgov.org, gpatchell@ccgov.org, rhodge@ccgov.org, awein@ccgov.org, cwhiteford@ccgov.org, wrobinson@ccgov.org

Student Population in Cecil County
Student Population in Cecil County

FAQ: School facilities in Cecil County

Why aren’t our school facilities as nice as …?

aka “Why doesn’t Perryville High School have a field house”?

Originally posted 3/1/15, Updated 4/13/17

Another question that is frequently asked–or maybe, more accurately, grumbled about–on the sidelines of sporting events at Cecil County Public Schools, is why school facilities in Cecil County aren’t on par with those of bordering school systems.

Welcome to Ceciltucky!

The Perryville High School boys’ soccer team had an exceptional season in 2012. Because of that, their 2013 regular season schedule included games with Harford County teams they hadn’t played in recent years. Perryville hosted teams like Bel Air and C. Milton Wright and played at schools like North Harford and Patterson Mill.

It was almost funny to watch the fans from Harford County show up for our home games. They were in complete disbelief at the sad state of our facilities. They didn’t even have folding chairs in their cars because they were expecting to find bleachers on our fields. Not only did we lack any kind of seating, but our fields were embarrassingly bare. Meanwhile, in Harford County and neighboring districts in Delaware and Pennsylvania, schools have stadiums with either turf or grass fields that have been maintained.

4/13/17: This wasn’t an isolated case. A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a coworker whose daughter plays for C. Milton Wright’s lacrosse team. CMW was travelling to Perryville the next day for a game. Her first question? “Does Perryville have turf?” After I stopped laughing, I explained that, sadly, no high school in Cecil County has turf. She then recalled sitting in dilapidated bleachers at a game at a Cecil County school several years ago. She couldn’t remember which school it was but she described the drive to me. You guessed it–she was talking about the now-replaced bleachers at North East High School. You might think opposing teams’ fans are only paying attention to the game on the field but they notice, and remember, the state of our facilities.

If you think schools don’t contribute to the home buying decision, ask anyone from outside Cecil County who happens to be visiting a CCPS school for sports or other extracurricular activities if they would consider purchasing a home in the county.

Why Doesn’t Cecil County Have Comparable Facilities?

The Cecil County Public Schools FY 2016 Budget Request includes two lists of capital projects:

  • Large capital projects which are funded jointly by the state of Maryland and Cecil County
  • Small capital projects which are the responsibility of the county
Cecil County Public Schools Capital Budget Request
Cecil County Public Schools Capital Budget Request

Projects like tennis courts, athletic fields, locker rooms, and the ever-elusive field house at Perryville High School are solely the responsibility of the county. And most of the projects on the FY 2016 request have been included, and denied, as part of past budget requests. Tennis courts at Elkton, North East, and Rising Sun High Schools and the renovation of the locker rooms at North East High School were included in the FY 2013 request. A field house for Perryville High School has been included in the requests for FY 2014, 2015, and now 2016. (4/13/17: The tennis courts at Rising Sun High School were replaced in the FY 2017 budget and new tennis courts at North East High School are proposed in the FY 2018 budget.)

Turf fields were included in the FY 2015 and FY 2016 requests. While turf may sound like a luxury and it is to a certain extent, the reality is that athletic fields in Cecil County are used essentially year round which means there is no time for the fields to be seeded and maintained. Fields for soccer and football in the fall become lacrosse fields in the spring. And still it boggles my mind how the county thought it was appropriate to fund a turf field at a new parks and recreation location while our school athletic fields are little more than dirt and weeds.

These are not new project requests but a list of needs that Cecil County has allowed to grow without ever devising a plan for addressing.

Why doesn’t Perryville High School have a field house?

I’ll admit that I didn’t even know what a field house was until last spring but one reason I started learning about the CCPS budget process was because I wanted to understand why other schools in the county had such a facility while our high school didn’t. Initially I incorrectly assumed that CCPS didn’t think Perryville needed a field house; now I know that CCPS has repeatedly requested the funding for such a project but has been denied by the county. (4/13/17: In February, a group of us from the Perryville community attended County Executive Alan McCarthy’s town hall meeting on the FY 2018 budget and two of us spoke about the need for a field house. While the county executive didn’t include the field house with a $2 million price tag in his proposed budget, he did propose the installation of turf at Perryville at a cost of $1 million. However, that project is far from a done deal because the county council could still cut it from the budget.)

So, to anyone wondering “Why they have (turf or a field house) and we don’t?” I say please take the time to email or call Cecil County officials and ask them that question. Let them know that these projects matter to you.

If full funding of our public schools is important to you, please contact the County County Council today.

Contact information updated 4/13/17

  • Just copy these email addresses for our council members and paste them into an email: jbowlsbey@ccgov.org, dschneckenburger@ccgov.org, gpatchell@ccgov.org, bmeffley@ccgov.org, jgregory@ccgov.org
  • Call the council members at +1(410)996-5201.

Fund Public Education to Drive the Cecil County Economy

Updated 4/28/17 with current council member contact info and links to CCPS annual reports

It’s time to reframe the conversation about public education in Cecil County as one about investment–in both the students who are the future of the county and in the county’s economy. In fact, the BEACON group at Salisbury University has quantified just how much Cecil County Public Schools contributes to the Cecil County economy in local jobs and economic activity yet all we ever seem to hear is school funding talked about as a necessary evil.

BEACON dashboard
BEACON dashboard showing CCPS contribution to Cecil County Economy

If you think funding education is expensive, wait a few more years and see just how much not funding it costs the communities of Cecil County.

For over five years the funding for our schools has been a favorite target–for both short-sighted citizens who seem to feel any spending on public education is wasteful as well as county officials who find it easier to yield to this outspoken but relatively small bunch of malcontents than to invite even more constant haranguing from them.

Have the courage to stand up for our schools

I would like to believe that county officials want to do right by our children but they lack the courage to stand up to this angry group and, if those who support adequate public education funding in Cecil County aren’t going to speak up, attend meetings, write emails, and otherwise make our voices heard, maintaining the status quo may be seen as an easier path for officials to take. We need to change that.

We need to make sure the members of the Cecil County Council know that we have and will continue to stand up for the schools. We are tired of the school system having to beg each year just to receive adequate funding. And when I say adequate funding, I’m being generous; Cecil County ranks 21st out of 24 school systems in Maryland for education funding per student.

Yes, education is the largest segment of the county’s budget so it’s understandable that the school system is asked the hard questions about the way those funds are spent and the academic return on investment. And CCPS has more than held up its side of the bargain: they have scrimped and saved and found efficiencies in ways they probably never thought possible yet they continue to meet and exceed established metrics for measuring educational success. (Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to the CCPS Annual Report for FY 2014, FY 2015, and FY 2016)

Education HAS been doing more with less

In case you’re new to the discussion of Cecil County budgets and the constant battle for school funding, here’s the Cliffs Notes: CCPS is a victim of its own success. This isn’t just one or two difficult years because of the economic downturn; this is over five years of being told to do more with less, which they have done and continue to do but, at a certain point, the lack of funding will show up in the classroom. Larger class sizes, the loss of quality teachers and administrators to other nearby jurisdictions, the reduction of programs–those are just some of the ways we’ll be able to measure the damage the county is doing to public education.

You want to drive the local economy? See to it that your schools are adequately funded

If full funding of our public schools is important to you, please contact the County Council today.

  • Email our county council members at jbowlsbey@ccgov.org, dschneckenburger@ccgov.org, gpatchell@ccgov.org, bmeffley@ccgov.org, jgregory@ccgov.org
  • Call the council members at +1(410)996-5201
where does casino money go

Where’s the casino money?

“Where’s the casino money?” That’s the question I’m most frequently asked regarding all things school budget and it’s a legitimate question but, like so much in this conversation, it’s complicated.

Cecil County Executive Tari Moore summarized it this way on a thread on Facebook:

“County government has no control over the casino legislation or distribution that allocated a portion of the revenues toward the State education fund. Unfortunately, the State didn’t use those funds to supplement education, they used the funds to supplant what they were already funding to local school districts. Counties that have casinos, however, were allocated 5.5% of the revenue from their casino toward local impact aid. We split that with the Town of Perryville (65/35). The law required us to put together a multi-year plan for spending the approx $2M/yr we receive. The County’s plan has funded some capital projects and roads (helps a bit with the 90% of road repair funding the state took away from counties), projects for volunteer fire departments, substance abuse programs, a small business incentive program, non-profit organizations that provide many services to our community, etc. And yes, the Governor’s budget will take away $372K from our FY16 allocation.”

Groups can apply for grants from the casino funds via the Video Lottery Terminal Local Community Grant Program. Here are links to the grants awarded for FY 2014 and FY 2015. Honestly, looking over these lists, I can’t say that they aren’t worthy causes doing good work in our community.

Business is Slower than Projected

No matter how the money generated by the Perryville casino is spent, there’s less of it than originally projected, especially now that other casinos are open in the state:

“…In 2010, Hollywood became Maryland’s first casino, opening in an Art Deco-style building near Interstate 95 in Cecil County and generating more than $2 million in revenue during its first four days, and almost $11.4 million in its first full month.

Its days as a mini-monopoly in Maryland are long past — the state now has five casinos, with a sixth on the way — and Hollywood is trying to position itself for its new reality. In what is now one of the country’s most saturated gambling markets, Hollywood Casino took in $6.2 million in slots and table game revenue in November, down 6.9 percent from a year earlier. And it has fallen far short of what the state projected when slots were legalized…”

Baltimore Sun, 12/29/2014, Once state’s only casino, Hollywood Perryville seeks its new reality

And the Baltimore Sun reported this week in an article titled Maryland casino revenue declines for second month that the results from last month aren’t setting any records, “At Hollywood Casino Perryville, monthly revenue fell $306,286, or 4.9 percent, from January 2014 to $6 million.”

What about Perryville’s Part of the Money?

The headline from a story in the Cecil Whig about Perryville’s portion of the casino money says it all: Casino money starting to dry up for Perryville

Could Cecil County use its portion of the money from the casino on schools?

Maybe a bigger question is: Could Cecil County use its portion of the money from the casino on schools? Not sure. If they could, should they? I don’t know enough about the situation to make an informed opinion.