School Board Weighs Cutbacks

It Is Asked To View Layoffs As Last Resort

October 27, 1991|By Dianne Williams Hayes | Dianne Williams Hayes,Staff writer

Recommendations ranging from tax breaks for accepting pay cuts to delaying the purchase of high-speed copiers will be considered during aspecial school board meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Boardmembers listened last week as representatives from the four school unions, parent groups and their staffs offered ideas for trimming the school system's $341 million operating budget by an additional $5.1 million, as requested by County Executive Robert R. Neall.

Among the cost-saving measures being considered by the board is for school employees to take a 4 percent pay cut, five-day furlough orface layoffs of about 450 workers, including teachers and support staff.

But employees and parents have offered their suggestions, preferring that pay cuts or layoffs be viewed only as a final option.

Those suggestions include postponing ISIS, the school system-wide computer program; saving $2 million set aside for new equipment, including high-speed copiers; and charging students enough for summer school to make it self-supporting.

"I intend to keep my word," school board president Jo Ann Tollenger said. "The board will consider all oftheir recommendations."

Anne Young, president of the county-wide Citizens' Advisory Committee, said parents and students believe furloughs -- to be taken on what would have been paid holidays -- would bethe most equitable approach. Young said she was concerned about the effect of pay cuts on lower-income employees.

County-wide Parent Teacher Association president Carolyn Roeding's list of suggestions included what her constituents do not want to see cut -- teachers, activity buses, programs, sports, chorus and/or band.

Officials from the Association of Education Leaders, which represents principals, suggested school officials take the money to be saved through salary cuts and consider it as a gift from its employees -- thus allowing workers to write it off as a charitable contribution.

The four school unions took the following positions:

* Teachers want all options exhausted before pay cuts, furloughs or layoffs are considered.

* Custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers say they would prefer furloughs to layoffs or pay cuts, but also want the board to do what it can to find the money elsewhere.

* Principals recommended such cuts as eliminating $100,000 worth of mini-grants for programs at individual schools. The group would prefer furloughs to pay cuts or layoffs.

* Secretaries and teachers assistants said they want to see proof on paper that board members have explored every option before choosing cuts that would affect personnel.

During the special meeting, set for the board's Riva Road headquarters in Annapolis, board members are scheduled to review the options proposed and make recommendations for cuts to the budget. A final cost-saving measure must be drafted by the next school board meeting, scheduled for Nov. 6.

If employee cuts are recommended, Tollenger said she would allow time betweenMonday's meeting and the next board meeting for union representatives to discuss the proposal with their memberships.

"I'm playing it straight with them," Tollenger said. "The board would have to take some action. We have to move forward, since our deadline for a restruckbudget for fiscal '92 is Nov. 8 at the latest. We should get some sense of where we are heading Monday."

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