Dear Board of Education:
Our school system is grateful for the continued support of our Board of Education and the County Commissioners as they help fund our schools. As a senior leadership team, we arrived at this budget request after gathering feedback from district leaders and members of strategic plan implementation teams, which are comprised of diverse internal and external stakeholders. This is a conservative request and does not represent the totality of the needs that exist in our school system. We are well aware of the potential impact that COVID-19 will likely have on our county, state, and nation. With that in mind, this recommended budget identifies the most pressing needs that are facing our school
While limited due to the impact of COVID-19 on our county and the potential impact on local funding streams, we believe that this budget request still exemplifies our commitment to the success of the 50,000-plus students in Cumberland County Schools (CCS). As we continue to immerse ourselves in the actions that are outlined in The Cumberland Commitment: Strategic Plan 2024, we remain committed to providing students with equitable access to engaging learning that prepares them to be collaborative, competitive and successful in our global world.
Our work has already begun, and we are making tremendous progress. As we build upon last year’s successes—a record-high graduation rate of 83.8 percent, the majority of our schools meeting or exceeding growth expectations, 85 percent of teachers in tested content areas meeting or exceeding or exceeding growth expectations, and 36 schools in CCS landing in the top 50 percent of the state based on the schools’ growth—we still know there is much more to do.
As a team, we were methodical and deliberate in our budget planning process. After carefully examining current expenditures, repurposing more than $1.5 million and deferring more than $4.9 million worth of identified needs, we are recommending that the Cumberland County Board of Education ask for an increase of $4.2 million in local funding from the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Of this request, $1,360,796 is due to legislative impact, $912,000 is targeted to support low-performing schools and $1,093,875 is earmarked to support our dedicated premier professionals.
Successful Students and Academic Excellence for All: We remain unwavering in our quest to create the conditions, services, and supports that cause all of our schools and students to thrive. Effective school improvement efforts do not take place overnight. Thus, we will continue to expand tailored initiatives to support the 23 schools designated as low-performing by the state. The pillars of support include professional learning, increased instructional personnel, and additional curriculum opportunities. We are making progress, and we are committed to this important work.
Premier Professionals in Every Building: Understanding the importance of recruiting and retaining high-quality educators and staff, this budget request includes a proposed increase to the local supplement for teachers, assistant principals, principals, and classified staff to be phased in over a period of four years. This request also includes funds to support the recruitment and retention of effective school principals to help turn around low-performing schools.
Exceptional Learning Environments: Due to the expected discontinuation of recycling service from the Cumberland County Solid Waste Management and the projected increases in waste disposal costs and utilities, this proposed increase also includes funds to support the continuation of these critical services that will allow our school system to provide an exceptional environment for our students and staff.
As we navigate through COVID-19 and its aftermath in Cumberland County, there will be additional challenges and obstacles to overcome. However, I optimistically believe that this, too, shall pass, and we will get through this together. We remain steadfast in our commitment to implementing The Cumberland Commitment: Strategic Plan 2024 and providing a safe, positive and rigorous learning environment that will prepare lifelong learners to reach their maximum potential. Again, while this budget request does not reflect the totality of our needs, it is a responsible and reasonable request given the potential financial impact of COVID-19 on our county.
In the interest of all children,
Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr.