County school officials say the state must be prepared to help foot the bill if a seven-period school day is required to meet new graduation requirements proposed by the state Board of Education.
Adding a period would cost the county $500,000 for materials and supplies and $4 million for new teacher hires -- unless the teachers union agrees to amend the contract and allow its members to teach six periods a day.
Under the state's plan, graduation requirements would be increased from 20 to 21 credits, 19 of which would be mandated by the state -- including all four history credits. Little time would be left for electives, such as home economics and some advanced placement courses that require prerequisites.
During a school board meeting Wednesday, representatives from the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County had harsh words for Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the state board. TAAAC president Tom Paolino charged the state was moving too fastwith too little thought, with a goal of propelling Schaefer's career.
"I have some great concerns and so do our members," Paolino said. "They are imposing what students can choose to take. They are dropping practical arts. That's where students learn the things they need to know to be functioning adults.
"Required community service is forced volunteerism. We have thousands of volunteers in the school system, but they chose to be there. In our society today, the only people required to do volunteer work are convicted criminals."
The mostcontroversial part of the state's proposal involves the requirement of 75 hours of community service. The idea of mandating student service earned mixed reviews from board members, but they warned that keeping track of student hours may be chaotic.
Cheryl Wilhoyte, assistant superintendent for instruction, said more information is needed on how the requirement would be carried out and what types of volunteer work would count. Questions were also raised concerning transportation for students going to sites.
"Being against 75 hours of community service is like being against motherhood and apple pie," board president Jo Ann Tollenger said. "I don't support it being mandatory. Idon't support forcing them to do volunteer work."
Parent-Teacher Association president Carolyn Roeding said she is concerned for learning-disabled students who already are struggling to meet current graduation requirements.
But school board member Vincent Leggett said he supports the concept of encouraging volunteerism.
"I do know that the concept has merit," Leggett said. "It's the practical questions that have to be answered, as to how we fit it into our world and schedules. There are a lot of volunteers, but I don't see the ranks being replenished at the rate of attrition. We need to find some way to spark and sustain the interest."
Student board member Miecha Werwie suggested that community service be offered as a class, or that students receive special commendations for their work instead of requiring it.
"We should encourage students to participate in public service -- it's important for college and jobs," Werwie said. "But there is a better way other than requiring it."
A public hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 29 at the State Board of Education, 200 W. Baltimore St. in Baltimore. Those who wish to speak during the meeting should call 333-2202.