The line has been drawn.
During a day-long meeting yesterday, Board of Education members fell just short of declaring war on a County Council they say is holding construction projects "hostage" until educators come up with a plan to realign school attendance boundaries.
"A state of war was declared in December 1990 on this board," Thomas Twombly said during the meeting, "and it is still obvious to me that a state of war still exists. The county government has used a carrot-and-stick approach. They send us a small carrot on one issue and hit us with a big stick on another."
At immediate issue is the more-than $15 million the board needs to complete North County High and enlarge Broadneck Senior to accommodate ninth-graders. In passing thecounty 1991-1992 budget last week, council members said they wouldnot release that money until the board agreed to study the possibility of shifting school attendance boundaries and filling empty classroom seats as an alternative to school construction and renovation.
Twombly's sentiments were echoed by other school board members, whose emotions ranged from frustration to dismay. Some complained that they have received no clear directions from the county on what must be doneto have the money released.
"I'm astonished by the ridiculousnessof this," student board member Kenneth McGill said. "Maybe it's my naivete, but this just seems crazy."
School superintendent Larry L.Lorton was obviously upset during the discussion.
"They talk about saving $80 million to $100 million, but the fact of the matter is that they didn't put money into maintenance before; I question what makes people think it will flownow," Lorton said.
Adding to board members' concerns over a redistricting plan that could leave as many as15,000 students bused to new schools, bus drivers may be planning todisrupt transportation if they're not given more money.
The boardhad approved a 5.6 percent rate increase for bus drivers, but that money was deleted from the budget by the County Council.
"We are two years behind, and you want to take away part of that from us," complained bus contractor Richard E. Wilson, who asked board members to request that money be put back in the budget. "You have to pay the going rate. We have to draw the line somewhere, and I guess the buck stops here."
Board members appeared sympathetic.
"In these tight times, they don't want to pay them (bus drivers), and they are talkingabout redistricting," board member Jo AnnTollenger said. "How are they going to move 15,000 kids, unless the council wants to drive them?"
Board members also expressed anger with the council's offer to approve six new teachers, provided they be used for elementary classrooms only.
"The placement of teachers is a board decision," board President Nancy Gist said.
In other business yesterday, members voted to increase fees for summer camps, athletic event tickets and school lunches. Some summer program fees have more than doubled, including those for the foreign language programs in Spanish, French and German, which increased from $90 to $200. The Chesapeake Bay ecological research lab summer program soared from $310 to $590.
Tickets for athletic events for students and adults have increased from $2 to $3. School lunch prices are up from $1 to $1.10 and milk from 25 cents to30 cents.