Keech Asks To Increase '93 Schools Budget 13%

January 19, 1992|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

School Superintendent Ray R. Keech wants his budget increased by 13 percent in July to hire more than 100 teachers for a wave of new students.

Keech proposed a $155-million budget for fiscal 1993, which begins July 1.

His request Monday night to the Board of Education includes about$10.4 million to hire 102 teachers and 48 other employees for special education, transportation and support services.

Overall, spending would increase more than $18 million in fiscal 1993.

Keech, reappointed by the board to a second four-year term Monday, is seeking anexception for the second year in a row to the general fiscal restraint local governments are exercising due to state and local governmentrevenue drops.

The county may not have the money next year to fulfill its "maintenance of effort" obligation to support education in return for matching state aid.

Last year, Harford was the only large local government that made its maintenance of effort -- $2.9 million.

So far, County Executive Eileen Rehrmann has not said whether the same money will be available.

"She has a continuing commitment to education, but considering that things are worse than they were last year and the situation is so fluid, it's too early to say what we will do," said Rehrmann's spokesman, George Harrison.

Keech won a 7.7 percent increase for education this year, despite the first overall budget cuts in county charter history.

Unless the state excuseslocal governments from their obligations again this year, the countywill have to increase its contribution to the school budget by more than $2.5 million to serve a projected 1,366 new students.

The Board of Education approved the general outlines of Keech's proposal in December but won't actually adopt a budget until its next monthly meeting, Feb. 10.

Everything depends on how the state government decides to handle its latest budget crisis. General Assembly Democrats and Republicans and Gov. William Donald Schaefer all support conflicting combinations of further spending cuts and new taxes to balance the current budget and next year's package.

One of the biggest increases Keech seeks -- almost $1.5 million -- would hire 11 teachers and 11 teaching assistants for special education.

But county governmentand school spending plans have been frozen since last month, when Schaefer announced that Harford would lose $5.4 million to help balancethe state budget.

Rehrmann ordered a $1.47 million reduction in school spending to help comply with Schaefer's cuts.

"None of that's final until the General Assembly acts," county treasurer Jim Jewellsaid. "It depends on how they would configure the cuts. We don't know if they would cut the county directly or they're cutting from the school board, the community college and the libraries."

In other action Monday:

* The school board approved using weighted grades foradvanced-placement courses to determine class rank beginning in September.

* The board awarded a $5.1 million contract to build the Route 543 Elementary School to Roy Kirby & Sons Inc. of Baltimore.

The 600-pupil school is due to open in September 1993.

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