Schools Urged To Adopt Furloughs

Education Board Must Cut $1.95 Million

December 22, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

The county commissioners encouraged the Board of Education to follow their lead and consider furloughing employees to compensate for pending state budget cuts.

School board members said they had yet to consider that measure and would have to return to the bargaining tableto negotiate with five employee unions.

The commissioners advised the school board at a Thursday meeting that they expect educators to trim $1.95 million from the public schools' $57.3 million budget to contribute to the projected $3.7 millionreduction in aid to Carroll.

The other $1.74 million in cuts is to come from county government. The cut requested from schools is 53 percent of the anticipated reduction; education makes up 53 percent ofthe county's $112.3 million operating budget.

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said that if county "employees take cuts across the board, everybody should be treated the same way. We'd like (the schools) to consider that."

Education Board members and Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said they need time to meet with unions, reopen contracts and determine where to make cuts. The board meets Jan. 8 and has its quarterly meeting with the commissioners Jan. 30.

The commissioners' request is $700,000 more than anticipated, said Shilling, adding that many school programs have been put on hold.

"We can't jokingly say that $1.9 (million) is going to be easy to cut. It isn't," said board member Cheryl McFalls. "The previous $1 million was not easy to cut. Education is driven by programs that must be kept in place."

Education officials agreed to try to comply with the commissioners' request.

"We are determined for as long as possible to let you run your own show," Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy told school officials.

County governments were granted authority by the General Assembly to order specific cuts in the education budget for this fiscal year but so far haven't used that power.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced a plan Dec. 10 to eliminate a $225 million state shortfall by cutting aid to local jurisdictions by $142 million. Carroll's $3.7 million reduction would bring the total amount of direct and indirect state cuts to the county to nearly $10 million since October.

The legislature might reduce the direct cuts to counties in the upcoming session. But alternative reductions in state programs would affect the county and probably would have the same result on the county budget, said Commissioner Julia W. Gouge.

"The bottom line is we're going to get these cuts one way or another," said Gouge, who advocated implementing furloughs and other reduction measures.

Schoolboard President John D. Myers Jr. criticized state legislators for alack of action and "courage" in addressing the budget crisis and forbeing more concerned about retaining votes.

"They haven't had thecourage to stand up for what they believe in," he said, citing cuts in education and health.

Budget Director Steven D. Powell said a broad outline of the county's proposed cuts is due to the state by Jan. 1.

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