By Mike McClure

According to Dr. Micah Stauffer, superintendent of Wicomico Public Schools, Maryland school districts have increasingly more state mandates and requirements with the same amount of funding. Wicomico schools are also receiving a lower percentage of county funding than it did in 2010. 

Stauffer spoke at the annual Wicomico Public Schools Luncheon on May 8 at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury. The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce event began in 2018. 

Superintendent of Wicomico Public Schools Dr. Micah Stauffer is shown speaking at the State of the Wicomico Public School luncheon last month in Salisbury. Photo by Mike McClure

Stauffer reported that the school district has 15,086 students with the following breakdown: 38 percent African American, 59 percent poverty, 37 percent white, 13 percent English learners, 15 percent Hispanic, 10 percent special ed, and 65 percent at risk (poverty, special education of English learner). 

He added that local funding has been down since 2010. The district received $36,241 per student in 2010. This year it received $35,141 per student. In 2010 Wicomico schools received 41 percent of the county budget, now it received 26 percent. 

Services and mandates required under Blueprint for Maryland’s Future include: more resources for students including more educational support for multilingual learners, more resources for mental health and wellness, more educational support for students with disabilities, and better resources for students and families living in poverty. Maryland school districts must also address college and career readiness, recruiting high quality teachers, early childhood education, more resources to ensure all students are successful and governance and accountability. 

“That is a lot of services and that is a lot of requirements and mandate to put on each Maryland school system,” said Stauffer. “As a school district we are always trying to catch up our resources to meet the needs of our students.” 

Stauffer said the state’s school district are being asked to provide more services with the same amount of funding. “While this is a lot of funding it actually isn’t enough to accomplish all of this,” he added. 

Programs not funded by Blueprint through state funding (funded by local funding) are: school safety/student discipline, class size, athletics and extracurricular activities and clubs, art and music programs, class room technology, field trips and student experiences, world language and elective subjects, transportation, and support staff/employee benefits 

“They are absolutely essential to the success of our students and they all rely on local funding,” said Stauffer. 

According to Stauffer, Wicomico Public Schools’ five priorities are school and climate safety, student achievement, student engagement, high performing workforce, and parent and community involvement. “The strength and success of our school system rely in so many ways in the strength and success of our parent and community involvement,” Stauffer said. 

“We’re good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars and we take that very seriously,” said Stauffer. “A lot of progress is being made. A lot of progress still needs to be made.”