County education officials urged Carroll's state legislators to resist reducing state financing for schools, saying further cuts or transfers of financial responsibilities could harm the school system.
"We're quickly running out of non-salary items (to cut)," said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling. "You can't pass back multimillion dollar cuts and think it's not going to affect the quality of the system."
During an exchange that was at times heated, Shilling and school board members implored the three state legislators at a Thursday meeting to spare Action Plan for Education Excellence. APEX provides money to counties for educational improvements, special education and teacher development, and salary enhancements such as raises.
The legislators wouldn't commit themselves to defending APEX money, because the General Assembly confronts a projected shortfall of $1 billion forfiscal 1993. School board members warned against saddling counties with responsibility to pay teachers' social security and retirement costs, which they say could total $13 million in Carroll.
Sen. LarryE. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, said the education system still "has some room" for cuts. But Shilling contended that cuts are to the point of "touching people very much at risk."
Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, said perceptions exist that the state has been "throwing money" at education, and that some school boards have mismanaged finances. School board president John D. Myers Jr. snapped that legislators "blew it in Annapolis," then tried to make education spending the culprit.
Education officials also advocated discontinuing a policy giving the county commissioners authority to make school budget cuts. The legislature granted that power for this fiscal year to give elected leaders flexibility in addressing budget shortfalls. The measure included an amendment intended to safeguard teaching jobs and instructional materials from the commissioners' authority.
But the measure doesn't prevent school administrators from cutting those areas, Shilling said. And if more spending cuts are ordered,jobs and classroom materials would be vulnerable.
Education officials lobbied for tax reforms to raise revenue.
"It's time to look for real solutions," said Shilling. "We can talk about trimming fat until the cows come home."
Haines opposes any tax increases and is "not ready to make any decisions on reforms."