School (HCPSS) Budget
Who determines the budget and how it’s spent for Howard County Public School System (HCPSS)?
  • HCPSS is a separate and independent entity governed by an elected Board of Education (BOE).
  • HCPSS budget is funded by County, State, Federal and school-own sources.
  • BOE decides how to spend the available funding by individual categories, programs and line items.

Education remains the County’s No. 1 funding priority.
  • Education received 64% of total County General Fund where funding is not restricted by law for specific purpose. HCPSS accounted for 58% of total FY 2020 County General Fund budget, including direct appropriation (52%) and contributions to school debt and retiree health benefits (6%).
  • Latest State data ranks Howard County 3rd among all 24 counties in Maryland for local spending per pupil. County spending per student totaled $10,603, 41% higher than the State average of $7,507.
  • Howard County is ranked No. 5 in per pupil spending among the largest 100 school districts in the nation.


FY 2020 total HCPSS budget growth was the highest in the past decade.
  • FY 2020 HCPSS budget growth of 5.9% was the highest in the past decade.
  • Over the past decade, HCPSS total budget grew by over 33% while enrollment grew by about 15%.

$ - Millions FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19* FY20 10 Year Growth
HCPSS Budget $675.3 $683.8 $703.7 $725.3 $758.7 $776.3 $808.3 $819.1 $851.4 $901.3 33.5%
Budget Growth 2.8% 1.3% 2.9% 3.1% 4.6% 2.3% 4.1% 1.3% 3.9% 5.9% 33.5%
Enrollment Growth 0.7% 1.1% 1.0% 1.4% 1.7% 2.2% 1.4% 2.1% 2.0% 1.5% 15.2%
*Net of $11.1 Million in one-time non-recurring costs.

Why did the County not fully fund the FY 2020 BOE request?
Due to the size of the request and pace of County revenue growth, funding the FY 2020 BOE budget request would have required significant tax increases or service reductions.
  • Requested County funding = over $100 million above prior year HCPSS budget and nearly $90 million above MOE.
  • Requested County funding growth to HCPSS = 3 times TOTAL County General Fund revenue growth for ALL services.


To fully fund the BOE FY 2020 County funding request, drastic measures, such as the following, would have been required:

  • Elimination of almost one-third (30%) of all non-education related services provided by County agencies; or
  • Increase in the County property tax rate by 17%, which would mean an additional $750 in taxes per year for a median household in the County.

Has the County reduced HCPSS budget in FY 2020?
  • County funding to HCPSS has NEVER been reduced from prior year. Based on State Maintenance of Effort (MOE) law, the County must spend at least the same amount per student as in the prior year.
  • FY 2020 direct county funding of $607.2 million to HCPSS grew by $18.2 million, or 3.1% from the prior year. This increase was the second highest in the past decade and supports HCPSS priorities such as collective bargaining and health benefits.

    $ - Millions FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20
    County Direct Funding to HCPSS* $464.7 $467.6 $482.4 $497.5 $530.4 $544.1 $562.2 $572.9 $589.0 $607.2
    Annual $ Change $7.1 $2.9 $14.8 $15.1 $32.9 $13.7 $18.1 $10.7 $16.1 $18.2
    Annual % Change 1.6% 0.6% 3.2% 3.1% 6.6% 2.6% 3.3% 1.9% 2.8% 3.1%
    *Funding used for MOE calculation (excluding one-time funding)
  • Besides direct funding, the County also funded $64 million separately in its FY 2020 budget for debt service payments for HCPSS infrastructure projects and school retiree health benefit costs.
  • HCPSS direct appropriation and total debt service payments combined account for the use of 77% of the new revenues in FY 2020 County budget. All other services - HCC, HCLS and 25 county agencies - share the 23% remaining.

    Where the Money Goes - FY 2020 County Total General Fund Growth
    $ - Millions $ % of Total
    HCPSS - Direct Appropriation $18.2 50%
    Total Debt Payments for Infrastructure Projects $9.9 27%
    HCC, HCLS, and 25 County Agencies $8.4 23%
Fiscal 2020 HCPSS Capital (CIP) Budget

County funding supported nearly 90% of the total HCPSS capital budget in FY 2020.



Funding Source ($ - Millions) FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20
County $51.7 $50.0 $45.0 $57.3 $55.3 $41.7 $44.0 $44.2 $56.3 $48.5
State $18.3 $22.9 $32.5 $26.3 $20.8 $25.8 $33.3 $21.1 $8.70 $6.10
Total $70.0 $72.9 $77.5 $83.5 $76.1 $67.5 $77.3 $65.3 $65.1 $54.6
County as % of Total 73.9% 68.6% 58.1% 68.6% 72.7% 61.8% 57.0% 67.7% 86.6% 88.8%
  • County has consistently provided the lion share of the HCPSS funding for capital projects – nearly 90% in FY 2020.
  • FY 2020 County GO bonds to HCPSS projects represent 43% of total County GO bonds for all infrastructure projects.
  • County funding to HCPSS in FY 2020 supported HCPSS-identified three top priorities: Talbot Springs Elementary School Replacement; Hammond High School Renovation/Addition; and New High School #13.