Leonardtown, MD — The St. Mary’s County Board of Education has an approved budget to present to the county commissioners. But they don’t have a negotiated agreement with the unions representing their teachers and support staff.

The school board at its May 25 meeting approved a $207.9 million budget that includes the allocation of $99.7 million from the county commissioners plus a one-time grant of $2.9 million for textbooks and technology upgrades. The county’s allocation does not include enough money to cover a three-year agreement with the employee representatives and thus that agreement winds up in the trash can.

School Superintendent Scott Smith (shown at left) told The BayNet that the two bargaining units will now have to go back to their members to decide what the next step is for them. Smith said the budget does include monies to fund step increases agreed to last year that become effective in the upcoming fiscal year. The budget includes $2.6 million more for instructional; salaries and wages.

According to the Assistant Superintendent of Fiscal Services and Human Resources Tammy McCourt, the budget that was approved uses $1.5 million of their available fund balance in order to balance it. The county’s allocation increased by $3.6 million over the current year and the state’s funding is up by $1.8 million. That is balanced by a $520,000 decline in federal funding.

The purchase of technology upgrades could be augmented by a program called E-Rate that is funded by the Federal Communications Commission. Under the program, school systems such as St. Mary’s County receive reimbursements for technology upgrades.

At the May 25 meeting the school board approved purchases for high schools of more than $800,000 from the county allocation of $2.9 million from a reserve account that had been set aside to buffer the county against any federal actions that could affect the future of Patuxent Naval Air Station. But of the total purchase price almost $500,000 would be eligible for the E-Rate reimbursement. Smith said if the reimbursement is approved it will allow the school system to do more with the county’s allocation.

The school system budget was approved by the school board with very little comment and none from Smith. It will be presented to the county commissioners at their June 7 meeting.

Contact Dick Myers at dick.myers@thebaynet.com