ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent George Arlotto on Wednesday recommended a $1.6 billion Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget to the Board of Education.

The budget is the first phase of a multi-year plan to “move funding from state and federal COVID grants to the school system’s budget, provide staffing to reduce class sizes, and provide compensation increases for all employees,” the school system said in a statement.

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Arlotto recommended $28.3 million in shifts of federal and state grants go to:

  • $4.2 million for 70.4 existing special education positions;
  • $5.1 million for 60 existing positions;
  • $6.2 million for temporary teaching assistants and long-term substitutes;
  • $4.6 million for a portion of the leases for technology equipment acquired throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and
  • $2.1 million in contracts for enhanced preventative maintenance services for school HVAC systems.

Nearly $25 million of the suggested budget would go to the first wave of funding dedicated to programs required by the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a piece of state legislation that entails expanding career and technical programs and bolstering salaries for teachers and other staff.

The school system said funding directly related to Blueprint requirements includes $5 million for mandated compensation increases for National Board Certified Teachers and $3.7 million for 54.5 positions necessary to convert 17 half-day prekindergarten programs to a full day.

The recommendation also includes $55.7 million for employee compensation increases.

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“I believe it is prudent to take a bigger bite of this apple this year for two reasons: First, we need to provide as much as we can for our employees as soon as we can. Second, we should not push any more of this cost into future years than we absolutely have to,” Dr. Arlotto said. “Doing so may imperil needed funding should the fiscal picture become more uncertain.”

The recommended budget also includes funding to address bus driver shortages and construction projects.

The school system has scheduled two public hearings and a public workshop on the recommendation.

Public hearings will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 4 at Old Mill High School, and Thursday, Jan. 6 in the Board Room at the Parham Building in Annapolis. The public workshop will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, in the Board Room at the Parham Building.

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For more information on the budget recommendation and the public hearings, see the AACPS announcement.

CBS Baltimore Staff