There are nearly 8,000 employees who support the students and families in our school system. They hold a variety of jobs and provide critical services to keep our organization running effectively and efficiently. Sometimes it is easy to take their work for granted, but recent data reminded me how fortunate we are to have each and every one of them!
Every day, 43,000 students attend Frederick County Public Schools, and the public receives a lot of information about the performance of these students. From star ratings to graduation rate to suspension data, there are many reports shared annually about our students’ achievement. FCPS earns many accolades and typically has positive results that exceed state and national averages. However, another critical piece of information that rarely is published tells how much we spend to achieve those results.
Did you know that our “per pupil funding” is below the state average? In fact, the amount Frederick County receives for each pupil is ranked at 22nd/23rd (tied with Queen Anne’s County) in the state. With only 24 school systems in the state, that puts us next to last.
That statistic never fails to shock me! It shocks me because FCPS continues to perform so well even with the cuts we imposed during seven years of minimal funding. It shocks me because our County Executive and County Council have funded FCPS above the required level for 4 years—but our budget “hole” was deep. It shocks me because most of our community does not realize how low our per pupil funding really is.
Last year, FCPS received $13,970 per student. Compare that amount to our neighbors: Washington received $14,289; Carroll was at $14,519; Montgomery received $16,859; Howard got $16,630. Those numbers help to explain the differences in salary and program offerings. Those numbers also tell you something about FCPS employees.
Our staff provide the community of Frederick County with an amazing return on your investment. They do that because they care deeply about our students and are committed to quality performance. They are the “Champions of Excellence” we describe in our Strategic Plan. They have done more with less for a long time, and that is exhausting! We owe them sincere gratitude and respect.
Please take a moment during this Valentine’s week, to share your appreciation. Please take a moment to ask yourself how much longer we can expect the same quality from a school system that is funded at the lowest level. Please take a moment to ask yourself if we as a community should be satisfied with that funding level. Then please take action to change it!
Do you have a Valentine’s appreciation for our teachers, staff, or schools? Share it with me on Twitter @FCPSMDSuper. And whether or not you agree with this post, if you enjoyed it, please feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.
(P.S. Wondering who is at the top in per pupil funding? Worcester County, home of Ocean City, tops the list with $18,472 per pupil. And the state average is $15,848.)