Dubel asks 12% more for schools Balto. Co. budget 'bare bones'

January 25, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

If former Baltimore County school board President Roger B. Hayden was elected county executive with a mandate to cut taxes and spending, he starts earning his money now.

Baltimore County School Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel last night asked the school board for $54.7 million more than he got last year, a 12 percent increase.

That would pay for, among other things, 360 new jobs to serve 4,000 new students, although the new Seven Oaks Elementary School in Perry Hall won't open in September as expected because of building delays. In all, the schools want $518.5 million, roughly half the current county budget.

A 3 percent pay increase for school employees is proposed in the budget, although school negotiators have not yet reached an agreement with the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.

Private fiscal experts are predicting 6 percent growth in county revenues in the next fiscal year, and only 0.4 percent growth the following year. Dubel is pinning his hopes on General Assembly enactment of some form of tax reform, as recommended by the Linowes Commission. But Hayden has not taken a public position on the Linowes recommendations and most county legislators oppose any tax increase this year.

Dubel is hoping for $32.7 million more from the county, $11.5 million more in state and federal aid and at least $10.5 million more from tax restructuring. County schools got a $24 million increase after last year's budget request for $49.5 million more.

He painted his budget plan as "bare bones," including the lowest pay raise request for teachers in the past decade, he said, and zero-growth budgets for maintenance, books, instructional equipment and supplies.

The only expansion of a program requested, he said, is five new teachers and five new aides to expand the prekindergarten program for 4-year-olds.

The 221 new teachers, 65 clerical positions and 74 additional professional posts requested would merely retain the current teacher-student ratio, Dubel said.

The superintendent said $28 million of the requested increase would pay for built-in, unavoidable expenses, including higher fuel prices, health insurance and salary increments.

Full-year funding of the 4 percent pay raise that teachers got Jan. 1 alone will cost $6.2 million more, he said. In addition, the new 3 percent pay raise for the coming school year would cost $14.5 million more. Another $11.3 million would be needed to pay for the new teachers, aides and counselors to keep the countywide average pupil-teacher ratio at 24.7 students a class.

Elected officials and county voters eager to see property tax rates go down must face reality, Dubel warned.

"They've got to face the fact that if there's no increase in property taxes, there's got to be a cut in services or access to new taxes. I'm not very happy with this 3 percent," he said of the proposed pay raise.

Under changes still being negotiated, starting teacher pay would rise to about $26,000 if the board approves and the final two steps of the current 30-step pay range would be lopped off, giving senior teachers more money, Dubel said.

The school board voted to endorse the Linowes Commission report on tax restructuring at its Jan. 10 meeting. Dubel said that, if enacted as proposed by the commission, the county would get an extra $30 million next year.

Dubel said that realistically he knows the county cannot pay the new money the schools need for next year. That's why, he said, the county needs to get at least $10.5 million from the state out of some form of tax restructuring.

The school board has scheduled a public hearing on the budget request Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Parkville Middle School, Hiss Avenue and Avondale Road, and is to vote on the budget at its Feb. 21 meeting at Perry Hall High, 4601 Ebenezer Road.

Highlights of the proposed 1991-92 budget * Total budget request: $518.5 million

* Proposed increase: $54.7 million

* Increase granted last year: $24 million

* The proposed spending increase will fund:

* 4,000 new students in September

* $11.3 million for 360 new jobs

* $14 million for 3 percent teacher pay raises

* $28 million for built-in costs such as fuel and insurance

Source: Baltimore County Board of Education

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