The call for revamping Maryland's tax structure couldn't have been more universal at last night's Baltimore school board meeting if Gov. William Donald Schaefer had orchestrated it himself.
Board members complained of $8.8 million in proposed cuts to the city's already overburdened education budget -- which were geared to minimize the effect on the classroom -- and urged parents and teachers gathered for the meeting at Coldstream Park Elementary School to lobby their legislators for a change in the state tax structure.
"I think it's outrageous that they're picking such tremendously .. high-priority areas," School Commissioner Phillip H. Farfel said of the state's elimination of aid.
Affected directly by those reductions in aid are a loss of $650,000 for free and reduced-priced meals for poor students and another $212,000 which would eliminate a prekindergarten program.
Residents, labor groups and bureaucrats alike cried "uncle" over the way the state now collects taxes and distributes the revenue for education.
"One of the solutions is tax reform in Maryland that raises revenues in a more equitable manner and redistributes it in a more equitable manner," said Arthur M. Boyd, executive director of the Metropolitan Education Coalition, a statewide group concerned with the quality of education.
Last night, the full board had its first chance to wrestle with a list of possible cuts that could eliminate teachers' getting paid for unused sick leave and require students to pay 20 cents to take a Mass Transit Administration bus to school.
The school board has until Monday to tell Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke what it wants to cut.
School officials are scheduled to meet today with unions representing teachers and education workers to discuss the cuts and their implications.
"It'll be an agonizing couple of days," School Superintendent Walter G. Amprey said.