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Howard County, MD: 'Critically understaffed in SPED'...teachers at 'breaking point'

Jan 9, 2020, Baltimore Sun: Howard superintendent’s proposed $964 million budget looks to address special education staffing http://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/howard/cng-ho-schools-budget-presentation-20200110-r5xup55ezrgkvffn463jbregoy-story.html Howard County schools Superintendent Michael Martirano is proposing an operating budget of $964 million for fiscal 2021 that addresses special education staffing, the health fund deficit and new general education positions. The $964.1 million budget proposal presented at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting is 7% larger than this year’s adopted spending plan, requesting $670.4 million from the county, $285.6 million from the state — including $7.8 million from the Kirwan Commission — and $8 million from additional sources. Martirano presented an aspirational budget of nearly $1 billion in December 2018 for the current fiscal year. Six months later, after a contentious budget season including position cuts, the school board adopted an $894 million operating budget. While the requested funding is necessary to “maintain current [education] service levels,” Martirano said in a letter Thursday, his “obligation” is to make notice of the programmatic and service gaps that exist within the school system. This year, Martirano included accompanying documents with his proposals, showcasing the nearly $70 million worth of equity gaps in the school system, including social workers, technology teachers and special education staff. An additional document outlined all of the cuts made to the operating budget in the past two years. “My heart ached as they spoke. ... We are critically understaffed in special education and this situation is driving many of our educators to the breaking point.”…