Lobbyists For School Programs Find Yule Stockings Only Half-full

December 23, 1990|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

To Howard Countians who have lobbied for goodies ranging from full-time elementary school guidance counselors to the Black Student Achievement Program in all schools, it's going to look like the grinch stole Christmas.

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey outlined a $200.8 million budget proposal Friday that contained only one major new initiative -- a chance for county high schools to adopt a seven-period day similar to the one Centennial High School was ordered to begin phasing out this year.

High school athletic coaches, the PTA council and the BSAP advisory council will all find a little something in the superintendent's budget, but not what they'd hoped for.

Hickey allocated no money to extend workshop pay to all fall sports coaches, a major issue for coaches. Currently, football and soccer coaches get a $750 stipend to cover two weeks of preschool fall practice. Cross country, volleyball and field hockey coaches schedule similar preschool practices but are not paid.

The superintendent restored $55,000 that the school board took out of the athletic equipment budget in the current school year to pay for band uniforms.

He also put in $12,000 to hire athletic trainers at two high schools, with the two schools to be chosen later -- if the item survives school board, county executive and council reviews.

The PTA council executive board had made a seven-period day for seven of the eight county high schools the top priority for the 1991-1992 school year, although the full council has not yet voted on the issue. Wilde Lake High School is not included because its unique schedule allows students to fit in additional elective courses, which students in the other schools could not do with a standard six-period day.

Hickey rejected the straight seven-period day, which would cost an estimated $2.5 million. He also ruled out a proposal for before and after school, night and weekend classes presented in November by high school director Daniel L. Jett as too expensive at an estimated $1 million.

The superintendent opted to allocate $431,000 to add two teachers at each school to offer a program similar to the one Jett ordered phased out at Centennial this school year.

In the 13-year-old Centennial program, the school day is divided into seven 50-minute blocks. The 185 students who are taking additional electives this year do not get a lunch break, although many teachers allow them to eat in class. Hickey said he anticipated that students wanting the extra course will average about 15 percent of the student body, as at Centennial.

Asked why Centennial was ordered to phase out a program that is now being offered as the model for all schools except Wilde Lake, Hickey said the phase out was based on higher class sizes at Centennial, a problem he hopes to prevent with the allocation for additional teachers.

"I would like very much to have a real seven-period day, the kind that costs $2.5 million. But I don't think that's in the cards today," the superintendent said, adding, "This is a compromise that, frankly, not everyone is happy with."

The budget contains $22,000 to hire an additional BSAP staff member to expand community liaison efforts. Although BSAP representatives said at the October "wish list" budget hearing that they would like BSAP extended to all county schools, Hickey said he believes the program now covers most of the schools with substantial black populations.

The BSAP was started in 1986-1987 in three schools to improve the achievement of black students. It is now in 14 elementary, middle and high schools.

Hickey's budget will be presented formally to the school board at a special meeting at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 3. The board, which has the legal right to add or reduce the superintendent's budget, will conduct a public hearing and several work sessions before putting together a final version to send County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

The newly elected executive found a bleak financial picture when he took office Dec. 3, with a prospective $17 million to $19 million shortfall in the 1990-1991 budget.

Hickey said he met with Ecker to discuss both the current and 1991-1992 budgets, but received no request from the executive to hold the education budget to any specific percentage increase.

The county's contribution to the school budget would rise from $140.5 million this year to $157.5 million, a 12.1 percent increase.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.