BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — The Board of Education of Baltimore County held a public forum on Tuesday night for community input regarding the proposed fiscal year 2021 operating budget.
Superintendent Darryl Williams has a $2 billion proposal which calls for a nearly $115 million spending increase in 2021 to hire more teachers, bus drivers and shrink class sizes.
"I do support the budget that is before you but I also encourage you to ask for more," said one veteran teacher. A parent added, "teachers need more than an increase in salary. We need more than an increase in teachers. Our teachers need support in the classroom."
Several attended the forum to voice their opinion, including two mothers who spoke about their children with special needs and how the infants and toddlers program has been essential for their kid’s growth and development. They said they support the proposed budget, specifically an additional 10 positions for this program.
Another woman stressed her concerns for the need in the schools.
"We still need more social workers more counselors and more psychologist," she said. "We need behavioral interventionists or others who are trained to deal with students who are coming to school with issues most of us can't even imagine."
A group from the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology stated their concern about the per pupil allocation. They said they want an increase to $186 per student.
"Carver Center is forced to do more, much much more with less," said one woman.
One woman applauded the Superintendent for creating the budget to bring more staff to County schools, but said the focus needs to be on attracting and retaining teachers.
"How can we retain educators who can choose to earn hundreds of thousands more by simply crossing the county line?" Cindy Sexton asked.
Another woman, who has been a teacher in Baltimore County for 32 years said her salary has been frozen for years and she wants to see longevity funding, so those teachers who stay in the county will get a pay increase, a reward and an incentive.
"We are the silent backbone of the teaching force. We are on committees. We coach teams. We mentor students and coworkers. We love what we do," she said.
While most of the focus was on teachers and staff, Laurie Taylor-Mitchell from the Student Support Network focused on the funding for food for students.
"Research has shown that increasing access to school breakfast improves academic performance, increase attendance and reduces behavioral problems," she said.