School Board Wants Business Leaders To Review Budget

November 26, 1991|By Dianne Williams Hayes | Dianne Williams Hayes,Staff Writer

School board members are asking business leaders to judge whether the school system's central administration has too much fat.

Under aproposal presented by board President Jo Ann Tollenger to the CountyCouncil yesterday, a committee of seven to eight business leaders would be assigned to assess central office personnel.

"We want them to look at 'right-sizing,' to determine what the right size our staff should be," Tollenger told council members during a review of the revised school budget yesterday afternoon. "It may bethat we have the right number of personnel and the positions have tobe adjusted."

Councilwoman Diane Evans, R-Arnold, an outspoken critic of the school system, seemed amenable to the plan, which stems from criticism that the board may be able to reduce some of its fiscalproblems by reducing central office staff.

"I want to commend youfor taking this step," Evans said. "It's the kind of effort I was hoping the board would tackle."

Tollenger said the committee of high-level business volunteers would review the 400 positions based at board headquarters on Riva Road. The committee is scheduled to be selected by Dec. 16 and will report to the board in 90 days.

The board and officials from Anne Arundel Community College spent most of theirtime yesterday explaining cuts made to their operating budgets.

The school system's $341 million budget was trimmed by $10 million at the request of County Executive Robert Neall because of reductions instate aid. The cuts included four staff furlough days, a hiring freeze, delays in maintenance and the disconnection of car telephones.

Tollenger urged council members to consider reinstating enough moneyto reduce the number of furlough days to three.

Each furlough daywould save the school system about $1 million.

Council members made no promises on offering help, but did quiz school leaders on the number of car phones that have been disconnected.

School Budget Officer Jack White said the bill for the 28 car phones last year totaled$19,000. This year, 11 phones have been disconnected, with the remainder being used by transportation department supervisors and three assistant superintendents. But council members seemed to be asking for more.

"I gave back my car telephone," said Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn.

"I'm going through phone withdrawal now. It's hard to believe you can't use a pager or another cheaper system. Whilethe savings may not be great, it helps with the public perception."

Councilman George F. Bachman, D-Linthicum, asked whether it was fair to cut pay for the five additional days for school department chairpersons. The department heads normally work a few days before and after the normal school year.

"I don't think any of this is fair,"Tollenger responded. "As a taxpayer, I haven't given up a nickel. It's the fairest option at this time. We didn't touch the coaches pay. My question is, 'Was it fair not to touch athletics at all?' These are the questions we struggled with."

Anne Arundel Community College leaders offered details on their Board of Trustees' plan to trim $3.1 million from the college's $30 million budget.

Tuition has been raised $10, to $54 per credit, plus a $15 registration surcharge. In addition, senior citizens will pay a $40 fee per course, and all employees face a two-day furlough without pay -- at a savings of $135,000.

Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, suggested that AACC President Thomas Florestano consider eliminating remedial courses. But he and other council members argued strongly on behalf of maintaining the development courses.

"Many adults take these courses," Florestano said. "My son, who is successful, took remedial courses, and I think it's good he did. The Naval Academy and Notre Dame offer them. We arenot a private four-year Great Books institution. We are a public two-year college, and the payoff is not in dollars."

Final revised 1991-1992 budgets for the Board of Education and the community college are slated to be struck by the County Council Dec. 2.

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