Shilling's Fiscal Message To School Board: Think 'Limits'

Growth Takes Priority Over New Programs

February 10, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

SYKESVILLE — When Carroll educators and others talk about the superintendent's proposed $112 million budget for the 1991-1992 school year, the buzzword among them is "limits."

Unveiling the spending plan earlier thisweek, Superintendent R. Edward Shilling recommended the school boardlimit any increases in spending over the current $100 million budgetto programs and staff hirings needed to accommodate growth.

"We cannot expect funding for new programs or significant improvement," Shilling said.

While asking for a 12 percent spending increase, the superintendent recommended the board trim a proposal to boost county's share of the budget from 14 percent to 10 percent -- or about $7 million to $5.5 million

Just more than half of the budget -- $55 million of the current spending plan -- comes from the county,with the balance coming primarily from the state. The budget must beapproved by the school board and then by the County Commissioners.

"We said we would be part of the solution," Shilling said, noting ongoing discussions between the commissioners and educators to containspending. "This is a very, very unusual set of circumstances that weare in."

"Limits" is the name of the game in an economy that has soured and in a nation that has gone to war in the months since school officials began working on the proposed spending plan. Also during that time, the county has found itself with dwindling revenue and hasimplemented hiring freezes and spending restraints.

"We need to be doing what we can to help the economic situation in the county," said Board Vice President Cheryl A. McFalls. "We need to be sensitive to economic conditions."

County Commissioner Elmer Lippy said the superintendent's proposed 4 percent reduction in the request for county dollars is a step in the right direction.

"However, I don't knowwhether that will be enough," Lippy said. "In my opinion, there willhave to be some more adjustments, as painful as they may be. We are in some unusual times."

Lippy said the county expects only about $2 million to $3 million in new revenue the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

"The board is making a valiant effort to cut things,"he said.

McFalls agreed the priorities in the budget should be hiring teachers to accommodate growth and staff the September opening of Piney Ridge and Spring Garden elementary schools.

"I feel it's very, very important that we meet all the areas that need to be taken care of because of growth," McFalls said.

School officials are asking for an additional $1.6 million to hire 62 additional teachers andclerical workers to meet student growth and to staff the two new schools, said Brian L. Lockard, assistant superintendent of instruction.

Unless the new staff is hired, Shilling said he will pull teachers and clerical help from other schools in order to open the new facilities in September.

Overall, school officials are asking the boardfor an additional $2.6 million to hire 109 teachers, administrators,clerical workers and others.

However, Shilling said some of thosepositions will be eliminated from the budget to cut the proposed boost in county funding by 4 percent. The superintendent said the staff has not identified which positions will be eliminated.

Staff cuts and "everything described as program improvement" should amount to 2.6 percent of the 4 percent cut, he said. The remainder, he added, will come from adjustments to the expected student enrollment growth.

School officials initially expected enrollment to grow by about 700 students next year. However, after reviewing building permits across the county, school officials have revised that figure to about 500 students.

Salaries for teachers and administrators will increase by more than 10 percent under the new plan. Under the proposed budget, administrative salaries will increase from $5.03 million to $5.5 million and teachers salaries will rise from $52.2 million to $57.7 million.

Shilling said the salary increases amount to the 3 percent wageboost proposal the school board has placed on the negotiating table.Contracts, however, have not been finalized with any of the five associations representing school workers -- teachers, administrators, custodians, clerical staff and food service workers.

Maureen A. Dincher, president of the Carroll County Education Association, which represents about 1,300 teachers, said CCEA officials are reviewing the budget information and will be looking very closely at the areas of proposed cuts.

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