Each the year the Anne Arundel County Board of Education creates, submits, and approves an annual fiscal budget. The budget process is aligned to both Board of Education policies and state law. The budget process also follows a timeline in sync with the federal, state, and county budget process because the Board of Education has no taxing authority and receives funding from the aforementioned sources to operate. However, the Board of Education is responsible to uphold the Maryland State Constitution, which states: “The General Assembly, at its First Session after the adoption of this Constitution, shall by Law establish throughout the State a thorough and efficient System of Free Public Schools; and shall provide by taxation, or otherwise, for their maintenance.”
Summary of the Budget Process
In brief, the Superintendent begins the budget process in December prior to each budget cycle by submitting the Capital and Operating Budget to the Board of Education. The Board of Education holds several public hearings and then votes on the budget in February. The Board of Education then submits its budget to the County Executive, who in April can approve, reduce, or shift funds for the school board budget. In May, the County Council holds public hearings on the County Executive's proposed budget. The Anne Arundel County Council then has the ability to amend the budget, but not increase it, and must pass a final approved budget in June. The School Board then approves the final budget following the County Council's actions.
Detailed Budget Information
The entire proposed current and prior budgets, as well as a chart explaining the budget process, can be found here. Please note that there are two categories for the budget. The categories include the Capital Budget (generally fixed assets, i.e. buildings, facilities, etc…) and the Operating Budget (salaries, programs, etc...). Again, it is important for stakeholders to understand that the Board of Education does not have the authority to collect or raise revenue. The County Executive, County Council, and the state determine final and supplemental resources used to fund the school system. However, after the final budget is approved by the County Council, the Anne Arundel County Board of Education does have say over where funds may be allocated. Some funding cannot be moved or transferred within some categories due to legal restrictions provided by the state.
Maintenance of Effort
The State of Maryland has a record in its recent history in supporting education for all students. Several educational studies and publications have pointed to Maryland having the top schools in the country. It is obvious that this success could not come without predictable financial support and steady funding. Enter the concept of the Maryland Maintenance of Effort law. In the 1980’s as Maryland began its ascension and movement to improving education, the state wanted to pass a school spending law which is referred to as "maintenance of effort." Simply, it is to ensure that all Maryland localities (counties and Baltimore City), spend as much on each student's education as they did the previous year. Without getting into the exact formula and history of debates that have occurred over this law since its inception, the latest changes that just occurred in recent Maryland General Assembly are as follows:
- Establish maintenance of effort as the legal funding "floor" for counties, and would require them to seek a waiver from the state school board if they cannot meet maintenance of effort;
- When a county seeks a waiver of maintenance of effort, the State Board may now take into account a county’s history of school funding, as well as economic circumstances; and
- Permit county governments to break local property-tax caps to fund education,
How can I advocate to uphold the Maryland State Constitution and encourage stakeholders and policymakers to support education?
1. Contact members of the county council. Contact information can be found here.
2. Join your fellow citizens at one of the upcoming meetings for the Anne Arundel County Board of Education - FY 2013 Operating and Capital Budget.
- Wednesday, May 9 - 7 pm - County Council - Public Hearing at the Arundel Center in Annapolis.
- Monday, May 14 - 7 pm - County Council - Public Hearing at Old Mill High School.
- Wednesday, June 20 - 10 am - Board of Education - FY 2013 Operating & Capital Budget Adoption.
Note: This post was written by Andrew Pruski, an At-Large Member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. He has been a member of the board since 2009 when he was selected to fill a vacant seat, and his term will expire in 2013.