School Board Is Troubled By Planned County Cuts

October 06, 1991|By Ed McDonough | Ed McDonough,Staff writer

While recently announced state budget cuts won't have much of an effect on Board of Education operations, a request by the county commissioners for further reductions could create problems.

The state cuts of 25 percent in selected areas of education aid announced Tuesday will cost the school board $71,000 to $80,000 in revenues.

But Carroll commissioners, in the wake of a cut of about $2.2 million in total state aid to the county, are asking all departments to make cuts of 2 percent to 5 percent in current fiscal budgets.

"That's more of a concern," said William H. Hyde, assistant superintendent of administration for the school board.

The county request, which does not include money for certain programs mandated by law, couldmean the board's $107 million operating budget could be reduced by as much as $1.1 million to $2.8 million, Hyde said.

Officials at Carroll Community and Western Maryland colleges also said they will have to scramble to cover major revenue shortfalls by cutting expenses, possibly raising tuition or both.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge saidthe county cannot force the school board to reduce its budget, but is requesting that officials review spending plans for possible cuts. Hyde said his staff is complying with the request.

An area of morelong-range concern is capital spending, which was not directly hurt by Tuesday's announcement but probably will be affected because of continuing financial problems. Hyde said that because much of the stateschool construction money usually comes from bond sales, cuts there might not be as deep.

But Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy and DelegateLawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, were not as confident.

Local governments will "have to put up the money for school construction or they won't have new schools," LaMotte said Thursday during the special General Assembly session in Annapolis.

Added Lippy, "If we've got to build schools, and we have to, we'll have to provide themoney up front and get them started when they should be."

Hyde said the state has appropriated $60 million for school construction andthat more than $50 million of that usually comes from bond sales, which, he added, didn't seem to be a prime candidate for cuts. He said the rest of the money, which comes from general revenues, likely would be "at risk" to state cuts.

Of more immediate concern are the programs cut by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in his bid to eliminate a $450 million state deficit. Late last week, Hyde said county officials had not decided how to cope with the cuts, which targeted certain programs.

The state budget for free and reduced-cost lunches and breakfasts -- about $59,000 -- was cut by 25 percent. The state contribution supplemented an existing federal program, said Eulalia M. Muschik, supervisor of food services.

Federal standards call for reduced-price lunches that cost 40 cents and breakfasts of 30 cents, she said. But assistance from the state meant actual costs were 20 cents and 10 cents, respectively. She said a small price increase, though notup to the federal level, could make up for reduced state revenues.

Higher education, meanwhile, is reeling from the biggest chunk of the governor's cutbacks, with the University of Maryland system, private schools and community colleges all subject to large budget cuts.

Alan Schuman, director of administration for Carroll Community College, said the cuts are the most drastic ever faced by two-year schools since state financing began in the 1950s.

At CCC, he said the planned $412,000 reduction -- $322,000 in direct state aid and another $90,000 from the state's employee fringe benefit payments -- comes toabout 8 percent of the college's operating budget, even though enrollment is 10 percent more than expected this year and 25 percent abovelast year.

"We're developing a shopping list of options," Schumansaid, noting that the trustees of the Baltimore County community college system, of which Carroll is a branch, will make the final decisions.

Additionally, said Joseph Shields, the college's executive director, the requested 2 percent to 5 percent county cuts could mean another $35,000 to $100,000 in lost money.

Western Maryland Collegeis expected to lose as much as $411,000, part of a $7 million cut inaid to private schools.

Spokesman Christopher E. Hart said officials have not determined what cuts or revenue increases might be needed.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.