Hickey's 'Dismal' Budget Request Up 3.9 Percent

January 22, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey proposed a $183.7 million budget yesterday to run the county school system in 1992-1993 and summarized it this way: "a dismal prospect."

The budget is based on a combination of cuts -- including elimination of 34 staff positions -- and additions that represent an overall increase of $7 million, 3.9 percent,over the $176.8 million the school system has available to spend this year.

Hickey had requested $200.8 million for the 1991-1992 fiscal year, a figure he says he "really does feel (was) what the school system should have had to operate this year." The board started the fiscal year July 1 with a $180.7 million budget, but had to take $3.9 millionoff last fall because of state aid cuts.

The latest proposal doesnot include money for raises for school employees.

The school board is negotiating contracts with unions representing secretaries and instructional assistants and school maintenance and custodial workers. The county teachers union agreed last week to renegotiate its current contract, which runs through June 1993.

How many of the 34 staffers will be laid off is uncertain. Most of the affected employees are in the school system's central administration, and those with teaching certificates may return to the classroom.

Two employees, curriculum Administrative Assistant Michael A. Savarese and principal on special assignment Walter Caldwell -- are former high school principals who might fill high or middle school administrator vacancies. One of the eliminated positions is currently vacant.

Hickey said he intends to bring the board an early retirement incentive plan in February, which could open additional vacancies.

Hickey added $8.5 million to the budget to accommodate the 1,500 new students expected to enter county public schools next fall, based on the school system's current $5,700 per-pupil expenditure.

"People are going to look at this (budget) and say, 'great.' These are mostly central office cuts andI still have my little Johnny's music lessons," Hickey said.

If the school system doesn't get the $183.7 million, which the superintendent termed "a very real possibility," the next things targeted for cuts include athletics and other after-school activities -- which could become "pay to play" -- gifted and talented programs, instructionalassistants, custodial and maintenance services, low-enrollment classes in high schools and music lessons.

Highlights of the budget proposal include:

* Administration -- $7.2 million, down from $7.9 million this year. Reduction of $300,000 by shifting school planning and construction staff to capital budget, $250,000 by eliminating workshop pay for teachers.

* Instruction -- $99 million, up from $98.8 million this year. Adds 52 additional teaching positions to accommodate growth and staff the two new schools, western middle and northeastern elementary, scheduled to open in September 1993.

Reduction of $1.6 million through the 34 staff cuts, which include psychologists, pupil personnel workers and one supervisor, curriculum supervisors and resource teachers, a facilities planner and a Black Student Achievement Program facilitator.

First-graders will lose the opportunity to participate in the gifted and talented program under Hickey's planto eliminate the three teachers who travel from school to school to identify gifted students. The School of Technology would lose one work experience coordinator and Patapsco and Wilde Lake Middle Schools would lose their shared planetarium teacher.

* Sports -- Reduction of $105,000 by moving sports events to afternoons to cut the costs ofadditional security guards for night events and by eliminating pay for coaches to start soccer and junior varsity football in August. Only varsity football coaches would continue to receive supplemental pay.

* Transportation -- $10.8 million, down from $11.7 million this year. To save busing costs, school opening times will be changed to allow a single bus to make three or four runs rather than two or three. Early dismissals for parent conferences will be consolidated ratherthan staggered on different days for elementary, middle and high school students as they are now.

Financing for private school transportation will be maintained at the same per-pupil cost as public school busing, but the overall cost will rise because of the addition of two new schools, Glenelg Country School and Chapelgate Presbyterian Academy.

* Plant maintenance -- $7.2 million, up from $5.5 million this year. The category took a $1.5 million cut this year, and Hickey is restoring money to replace worn-out equipment and make some building repairs.

* Capital outlay -- $640,000, down from $869,000 this year. This category took the steepest percentage cut, 26.4 percent.

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