Caroline County Schools Superintendent Sarah Calveric presented her proposed fiscal year 2021 operating budget to the Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday. She is proposing a $47 million operating budget, which is $2.9 million more than this year’s budget.
Some of that difference will be covered by $1.3 million in state funding, but that still leaves a $1.67 million budget shortfall—a hole that would need to be plugged with county funds. In the current fiscal year, $14.5 million of the schools’ budget was funded by the county.
Calveric said her budget priorities are a 5 percent salary increase to complete the third year of a plan to improve teacher compensation and to hire 1 part-time and 9 full-time employees.
The current salary for a starting teacher is $41,800. The proposed budget asks for a 5 percent bump to $43,322.
The budget for new staff includes one counselor to meet new state guidelines for that position, two elementary classroom teachers and one high school English teacher, a chorus teacher to be shared between Caroline Middle School and Caroline High School, an ITTR teacher, a reading coach, a behavioral specialist, a communications and community outreach specialist and a part-time procurement specialist.
“Caroline Public Schools is the largest employer in the county with nearly 700 employees,” said Calveric. “Teacher compensation continues to be a national, state and local major priority.”
The School Board’s $3.3 million budget for capital projects includes replacement of fire alarms at Lewis and Clark Elementary and the School Board office, replacing bleachers at Caroline High stadium, resurfacing the track, adding a turf field, replacing the stadium lights and improving accessibility to the softball field.
Caroline County Administrator Charles Culley said the county’s proposed budget likely will be ready sometime in March.