Dubel seeks $518.5 million school budget

January 25, 1991|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel of the Baltimore County schools submitted yesterday a $518.5 million budget, an increase of about $55 million, which he said was needed to keep up with an expected enrollment growth of about 4,000 students.

He acknowledged that given the tough economic times, he was unlikely to get all the money he wanted.

"We are very sensitive to the seeming paradox of proposing an 11.8 percent increase in the level of spending in an era of troubled public finance," he said.

But he said citizens, particularly property tax protesters, must face facts. "People have got to acknowledge the fact that we have 4,000 more kids. It is a totally impossible situation," said Dr. Dubel, whose budget must be approved by the Board of Education before going on to the executive and County Council.

County Executive Roger B. Hayden would not say whether he thought an 11.8 percent increase was reasonable or wishful thinking.

"The board looks at it before we get involved," he said.

But he did say he had a "good" relationship with Dr. Dubel.

Mr. Hayden's predecessor, Dennis F. Rasmussen, often quarreled publicly with the superintendent over spending.

Mr. Hayden conceded that the school system faced an enrollment increase and that more teachers would have to be hired to keep the average class size at slightly under 25.

Dr. Dubel said this budget, more than any other he had submitted, represented trying to maintain the "status quo." One of the only expansions would increase the number of half-day, prekindergarten programs from 54 to 64.

The budget calls for hiring about 360 people, including 284 teachers and counselors and 15 instructional aides. Dr. Dubel said that was just enough to keep up with the anticipated increase in the current enrollment of about 87,000.

It also provides a 3 percent raise for teachers and other school employees, and salary restructuring for veteran teachers, although negotiations with unions are not over.

The bulk of the $55 million spending increase breaks down as follows: $14 million for salaries; 11 million for new positions; and $28 million for such built-in costs as insurance, fuel and bus replacements.

Dr. Dubel said he hoped to get a spending increase of $44.2 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"This would give the Baltimore County public schools the largest budget increase in history, but this would still fall $10.5 million short of fully funding this proposal," he said.

Dr. Dubel said he was pinning his hopes on the county's getting more money from the state if the tax reforms proposed by the Linowes commission were adopted.

"It is only fair to acknowledge . . . that this budget request . . . cannot be fully funded, even with an education-minded county executive, without help from the 1991 General Assembly," he said.

The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Parkville Middle School. It is scheduled to vote on the budget at 8 p.m. Feb. 21 at Perry Hall High School.

Also, at the board meeting last night, school administrators put a $1.2 million price tag for the 1991-1992 year on their plan to improve minority achievement and participation. The money would be used for such things as workshops and minority recruitment plans.

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