By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(Nov. 28, 2019) Parents and the public can make their requests for the Worcester County Board of Education’s fiscal year 2021 budget during a public meeting on Tuesday.
The forum will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the school district’s central office on 6270 Worcester Highway in Newark.
Vincent Tolbert, Worcester County Public Schools’ chief financial officer, said that one parent representative from each of the 14 schools will have the opportunity to express their constituents’ financial priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.
“Each parent will come up and sit at the table and present their budget request to the board of education,” Tolbert said.
Tolbert said that some preliminary budget requests may include competitive teacher and staff salaries, small class sizes, as well as acceptable supplies.
“Based on what the board hears that evening, they’ll work to develop their budget goals for the budget for upcoming FY21,” Tolbert said.
The county’s public schools system has a student-teacher ratio of 11:1, according to niche.com, an education and workplace assessment website.
With regards to teacher salaries, Tolbert said the “salary scales have steps,” with new teachers starting at step one, and the scale goes up to 16. He added that each year, the salaries typically increase by one step.
The school board will also have a public comment section of the meeting where area residents can voice their concerns or offer suggestions.
Additionally, Tolbert said, Carrie Sterrs, coordinator of public relations and special programs, will share the findings of the annual parent survey, which allows parents to give their opinions on a variety of school issues, including class sizes and cafeteria lunches.
Tolbert also said while “this is very preliminary,” he may be able to disclose some early figures for the upcoming budget cycle.
“State aid … has not been released yet. That won’t be released until January when the governor releases his proposed budget for next year. And of course the county funding is not determined at this point either,” Tolbert said. “So it’s very general. Numbers may be discussed, but nothing definite.”
Following Tuesday’s meeting, the board will conduct salary negotiations with the associations for teachers and support staff, Tolbert said. Once an agreement is reached, Superintendent Lou Taylor will present “informal” budget information to the school board in January, and it will hold a budget review meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.
The school board will then adopt a proposed budget during the Feb. 18, 2020 meeting, Tolbert said.
Following that approval, Tolbert said the budget will be forwarded to the Worcester County Commissioners by the first week in March. County officials will meet with school board representatives in April. The county will incorporate it into the general budget, and hold a review meeting on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Tolbert said, before adopting the budget in June.