PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. — When Calvert County’s Board of Commissioners met on Nov. 16, they discussed two budget adjustments for the board of education that could reshape their school’s system for the next two to three years.

The first budget change was to move $200,000 of the psychologist salary to the instructional costs category, to have consistent psychologists that work strictly with the Board of Education. Currently, there are eight vacancies, with about $400,000 to $500,000 in salaries.

“We have several psychologist vacancies. Therefore, we must utilize the services of outside vendors to provide psychology services to our students,” Edith Hutchins, Chief Financial Officer, said.

With brief questioning, the commissioners approved to add $250,000 worth of psychologist salary to the contractor psychologist’s account to pay these vendors. However, the proposal did not get unanimous approval.

The second budget adjustment focused on eight different grants that totaled $7.6 million. Emergency legislation backs these grants to the federal government put in place to address issues caused by the pandemic. These funds are being used primarily to address learning loss and help pay salaries.

“A lot of these funds are being used to address learning loss to pay our staff to provide summer school, after-school tutoring sessions, and things like that. To address learning loss, we also want to provide transportation for students to attend summer school and purchase materials of instruction and equipment” Hutchins said.

After explaining, Commissioner Mike Hart[R] raised concerns that these funds will be a recurring expense. However, Hutchins clarified they will only use these federal funds throughout the next two to three years.

Commissioner Chris Gadway[R] was concerned about the apparent price disparity for one grant. Hutchins explained that the $76,000 was for that grant, but the $800,000 was for all the grants’ instructional supplies category.

The aforementioned grant is to fund a program called “Achieving Academic Equity for Black Boys.” The program was produced by the State Board of Education, and it’s been a growing part of the school system since they implemented the no child left behind policy.

With this program, the commissioners hope that the board of education will add children to the same socioeconomic status even if they don’t have the same race or gender.

“You know we would cross all gender, racial and socioeconomic lines to help every student achieve their highest potential. It only gives me concern when I see you are specifying one particular group of individuals when we should help all of our children,” Commissioner Earl “Buddy” Hance said.

But, the board of education mentioned that they took that into account as well. They continued to say that minority boys have special challenges that stop them from reaching their goals.

This grant program will start in one school as their pilot school. After this discussion, the commissioners approved the budget change.

Another highlighted issue Commissioner Gadway mentioned is raising concerns over the dialogue, or lack thereof, between the parents and the Board of Education. The representatives for the board of education did not have any comments on the topic, but they could be addressed in their next meeting.

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