Martirano: Negotiated Agreements Can Be Honored

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Martirano: Negotiated Agreements Can Be Honored

Leonardtown, MD - 4/12/2013

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By Dick Myers

Dr. Michael Martirano
Dr. Michael Martirano

The proposed four-percent increase in county contributions for the St. Mary’s County Public Schools will allow the funding of the negotiated agreements with the three bargaining units. That was the assessment given to the school board Wednesday by School Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano. But he told the board a plan to hire ten “Safety and Security” assistants for the elementary schools would take additional monies from the county.

The four-percent increase, which will be in the recommended budget that goes to public hearing on April 30, gives the schools an additional $3.2 million. The negotiated agreements would require $3.8 million, the superintendent said, but $500,000 of that would be a one-time $800 stipend for those at the top of their grade. Martirano said that can be paid out of the school system’s fund balance. The additional shortfall could be covered by anticipated state funding, although the total amount from the state is still unclear as the result of the just concluded Maryland General Assembly session.

The superintendent said his two goals for the new budget were to take care of employees and beef up security. He would like to hire three teams of three persons each to cover security in the elementary schools. That would cost $365,000 a year, money the system doesn’t have under the current budget proposal. He offered two options: rolling out the entire plan in Fiscal Year 2014 or breaking it up into two years. “It is difficult to put a price tag on the safety of our children,” he added.

Martirano noted that the county commissioners will be going into the budget hearing at Chopticon High School with a $500,000 reserve that can be used for additional funding. He said part of that could be used for the security plan and suggested that the point be emphasized during testimony at the hearing.

With the four-percent extra funding, there is no room in the budget for the additional hires in the school board requested budget. Even with cutting the new hires, there is still a more than $1 million shortfall. Martirano said there is particular concern about inflationary pressures. “In order to cut the remaining $1,105,069 we will need to go back through the budget and cut existing appropriations as well as making funding adjustment to CPCS (Chesapeake Public Charter School). While we can do this, many accounts will have a reduced appropriation which may lead to expenditure issues in FT 2014.”

While confronting that issue, the superintendent and the school board members were still laudatory towards the county commissioners for giving them the extra funding (over Maintenance of Effort) to be able to afford to fund the negotiated agreements.

The commissioners set their final budget by May 30 and then the school board will have to take their appropriation and come up with a final budget in June.  

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