The City Council has given final approval to a pair of supplementary budget bills that restore $1.6 million in school funds cut by the council in June.
The council had cut $800,000 each from the superintendent's budget and from the Education Department's planning, research and evaluation arm. The cuts were intended to put pressure on the school system to redirect more of its funds to classroom, rather than administrative, activities.
Last night, the measures sailed through the council with just one dissenting vote.
In a briefing yesterday afternoon, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey urged the council to approve the $1.6 million supplementary appropriation as a vote of confidence in his new leadership of the school system.
"I need for you to strongly consider restoring these funds to us now, based on that trust," he said. "It would help us plan better, which is one of the things you're asking us to do."
Joseph L. Smith, president of the school board, said some of the $1.6 million appropriation is needed for the city's 14-school restructuring program, which is part of a high-priority effort to give more autonomy to individual schools.
"If we don't get some of the $1.6 million, we're going to be in a bind on restructuring," said Smith. He said some of the money would be used for the long-range process of school rezoning.
Phillip H. Farfel, a member of the school board, told the council that the school system has focused resources on schools, rather than administration. Among the items he cited:
* An additional $24,500 to each of 32 schools, which could be used to hire half-time assistant principals -- a council priority -- or for other improvements. A total of 29 schools chose to hire assistant principals.
* The elimination of 193 positions as part of $5.5 million in cuts in administrative operations in the past three years.
* A reduction in the administrative cost per pupil in recent years.
Farfel also outlined a plan to use students and school staff members in the department's research and planning activities to give them experience and ease the burden on administrative resources.
Councilman Joseph T. Landers 3rd, D-3rd, who cast the lone vote against the supplemental appropriation, questioned whether the funds should be appropriated at a time when the city will be looking at cuts in school lunch and school nurse programs because of cutbacks in state funding.