Harford County Executive And Board Of Education Announce Joint $25M Boost To School Funding Amid Budget Tensions
HARFORD COUNTY - Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly, in conjunction with the Board of Education, announced a mutual plan on Thursday to increase operational funding for schools in Fiscal Year 2024. The move results from in-depth discussions among the Harford County Public Schools (HCPS), the Cassilly administration, and the County Council.
The Board of Education has agreed to provide $15M from its fund balance reserves to its operational budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Simultaneously, County Executive Cassilly has pledged an additional $10M, bringing the total increased funding for the upcoming year to $25M.
According to the county executive's office, the school system will source its share from surplus funds from previous years, known as their "fund balance." Cassilly's portion will focus on boosting teacher salaries and diminishing class sizes, pulled from a 2.5% reduction across all county departments from the current FY23 budget, alongside other savings made during his tenure.
Moreover, the agreement will see Harford County's government and HCPS embark on a new budget process for year-round collaboration and information exchange between the two entities. This process aims to align resources effectively with needs and continue the mutual work to reduce redundancies.
This development follows the criticism leveled at Cassilly's proposed FY24 budget in April, which Harford County Public Schools labeled as the "worst-case scenario."
HCPS took issue with the budget, alleging it cut its funding by $19.4M from the previous fiscal year and falling $39M short of the Board of Education's request. Superintendent Dr. Sean Bulson accused Cassilly of "mortgaging our children's future for political grandstanding."
The new joint agreement on school funding and budget collaboration marks a significant shift from earlier contention between the schools and the county executive's office.
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