Facing Massive Cuts, Hickey Pares School Budget

1991: The Year In Review

December 29, 1991|By Donna Boller

2 Superintendent of Schools Michael E. Hickey didn't know when he introduced a $200.8 million school budget proposal 12 months ago just how bad things were going to get.

The budget slicing that followed included cutting:

* Pay raises for all school employees, including the 6 percent salary increase and 2 percent longevity pay called for in the teachers'contract.

* $3 million for textbooks, supplies and materials.

* Twelve jobs from the 38-position teacher pool that allows school officials to hire additional teachers to divide large classes and staffsuch low-enrollment courses as advanced calculus.

* Custodial overtime pay, which forced community groups that use schools on weekendsto foot the bill.

* Money for gifted and talented student orchestras, which meant parents had to make up the cost if the orchestras were to continue.

The school board took $12.4 million off Hickey's budget proposal at the request of County Executive Charles I. Ecker, who then cut the additional $8.9 million that would have been requiredto cover raises and longevity pay for county teachers.

Teachers reacted angrily. They staged a rally outside county government offices, conducted a one-week "work to rule" in April, then carried the protest into this school year with a refusal to perform unpaid services.

The most recent budget cuts in October left the school board with $176.6 million to spend during this school year, $11.8 million less than in 1990-1991, with a student population that has grown by 1,500.

Hickey has managed to avoid layoffs or furloughs, but teacher vacancies are being filled by substitutes rather than by more expensive full-time teachers and central administration vacancies are generally being left unfilled.

The board cut the travel budget, eliminated extra-duty pay for teachers to attend workshops and turned down the thermostats in classrooms across the county.

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