Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston focused on the need to maintain academic excellence for a growing student population as he presented his fiscal year 2012 recommended operating budget to the Baltimore County Board of Education on Jan. 12.

In delivering his 11th budget to the board, Hairston said the Baltimore County Public Schools system continues to lead the state and the nation in student achievement among school districts with similar profiles. “We have evidence that investment in public education works – especially here in Baltimore County,” Hairston said in a prepared statement. “Continued support to protect and preserve core programs – despite economic challenges – is critical to our ability to advance achievement for all students.”

While the FY 2012 budget proposal does not include any new programs or initiatives, it is $6.5 million (or 0.5 percent) larger than the FY 2011 operating budget. Hairston explained that this increase is primarily driven by a projected increase in enrollment of 864 students – the largest expected increase in student enrollment in the past eight years.

The superintendent noted that in developing the proposed $1,217, 357,451 budget, the first priority was to preserve core programs and services, as outlined in the school system’s Blueprint for Progress. These core programs and services, which continue to move the school system forward to ensure ever-advancing student achievement, include:

-Quality of instruction that has earned national recognition
-No furloughs or layoffs
-Step increments for eligible employees
-Benefits for eligible employees
-Safe and supportive learning environments
-Continuation of safe and drug-free program
-Continuation of full transportation programs
-STEM and virtual learning environment

Hairston also noted that enforcing strict measures was necessary to offset increased salary and benefits costs, in the amount of $19.2 million. The measures were also necessary to mitigate the loss of federal stimulus revenues, amounting to $19.4 million, and increased costs to comply with state and federal mandates, amounting to $1.75 million.