City schools looking at reducing staff Budget cuts may force layoffs before July.

February 21, 1991|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Evening Sun Staff

Baltimore schools could be forced to lay off dozens of workers in non-teaching positions if the mayor requires cuts in personnel before the beginning of the new fiscal year, according to the deputy superintendent.

J. Edward Andrews told City Council members yesterday that "a minimal number of potential layoffs" could result from early personnel cuts in the proposed $551.2 million school budget for fiscal 1992.

But Andrews said layoffs could be avoided if the cuts are delayed until after July 1 and the start of the new fiscal year because the school system could then trim positions that become vacant over the summer.

Mayor Kurt Schmoke last week proposed a $6 million cut in the city's contribution to the school budget, providing $191.1 million in city funds.

The mayor's office also has told city departments to prepare for personnel cuts effective April 1, in preparation for the fiscal 1992 budget.

At a budget hearing yesterday, Andrews told council members that school officials have begun discussing specific cuts, steering clear of school-based staff, books, instructional materials and supplies.

The possibilities that remain include trimming central office personnel, transportation or other non-instructional items.

"We're trying not to cut any positions assigned to schools," said Andrews.

And, while Andrews did not give a breakdown yesterday, a School Department spokesman said officials were looking at $1 million in personnel cuts initially.

That would translate into about 30 layoffs, if the department were forced to make the cuts prior to the next fiscal year, said Douglas J. Neilson, a School Department spokesman.

"We are trying to keep the number of personnel affected at the absolute minimum," said Neilson. "At most, I don't see it being more than 30 to 50 people."

He said, however, that the number of positions could actually be higher if the cuts come in the form of jobs that become vacant over the summer.

If the entire $6 million were to come from personnel, it could result in more than 200 employees being cut, Neilson said.

Speaking after the meeting, Andrews said he "can see no way" of meeting the $6 million in cuts without some personnel cuts, especially since the department is determined not to make cuts in textbooks or other items directly related to instruction.

But Andrews stressed that the teachers would be immune from the cuts. Any personnel cuts would take place in other areas, including central administration or maintenance, he said.

In its original budget proposal, the School Department already had trimmed 34 central administration positions, saving $1 million.

On a brighter note, Andrews told council members that the School Department would finish the fiscal 1991 budget with a surplus, which one budget official estimated at $400,000.

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