Salary step and scale increases, health insurance, St. Charles High School and learning resource teachers are among the Charles County Board of Education’s priorities in a $342.7 million funding request sent this week to the county commissioners.

The Board of Education on Feb. 11 approved its fiscal year 2015 operating budget, adopting Superintendent Kimberly Hill’s proposal for the next school year. The FY2015 proposed operating budget represents a 6.4 percent increase from this school year’s budget, or $20.7 million.  State funding is expected to increase by about $2.4 million, and the Board is asking the county to fund $19.7 million, or a 12.4 percent increase. 

Costs for employee compensation and the opening of St. Charles High School compose the majority of the Board’s requested increase. The Board is requesting $8.8 million for contract negotiations with the Education Association of Charles County (EACC) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).  The reserve amount includes two step/level increases, which were deferred in fiscal year 2011.

Additionally, the budget request includes $7.7 million for phase one of the recurring operating costs for St. Charles High School, which opens in August 2014. Expected enrollment the first year is 1,000 students. A total of 74.8 new staff positions were created to support the school, in addition to the 44 positions that will be transferred from other high schools. The request excludes start-up costs.

School lunch prices will also increase 10 cents next school year. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires school systems to set meal prices equal to the Federal reimbursement rate for free and reduced meals. Lunch prices will rise to $2.45 for elementary-school students and $2.70 for secondary students.

The Board also included a supplemental budget to the Commissioners in the event additional funding becomes available. Items included in the supplemental budget include school requests, including technology, classroom supplies and security; instructional programs, including Springboard, Common Core State Standards and continuation of Race to the Top programs and supporting services projects including facility upgrades, playgrounds and carpeting. The supplemental budget includes $19.1 million of additional funding requests.