Howard school board asked to restore cuts Many at hearing push certain programs, staff.

February 12, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Parents, students and teachers last night asked the Howard County school board either to restore cuts made by Superintendent Michael E. Hickey in his proposed 1992-1993 operating budget or not to cut programs that so far have escaped the ax.

The public hearing in the board's meeting room on Mr. Hickey's $183.7 million budget request brought out advocates for programs such as the Black Student Achievement program, sports, psychologists and pupil personnel workers, music, math and science, all targeted for budget reductions next year.

Black Student Achievement Program advocate Charles H. Palmer Jr. asked the board to restore the one staff position Mr. Hickey targeted for elimination.

"There is simply no way that the two people who will be left after these cuts can provide credible service to the over 4,500 African-American students and their parents in the school system," he said.

Others asked the board to restore the three psychology staff positions and 2.5 pupil personnel positions scheduled for elimination.

"We need more psychologists, which may not be feasible with the current budget situation, but we cannot make do with any less," said Janet Nuse, president of the Learning Disabilities Association of Howard County.

Mathematics, science and music advocates asked the board to restore resource teachers in those subjects.

Mr. Hickey's budget request is built on a combination of increases and cutbacks.

The superintendent added $8.5 million to accommodate the 1,500 new students expected to enter the county school system next fall and $1.7 million to replace worn-out equipment and make some building repairs.

But he held the overall budget increase to $7 million by cutting other areas.

The proposal calls for hiring 52 teachers to cover projected enrollment increases and staff the two additional schools opening next fall, but eliminating the three teachers who now provide special classes for gifted and talented first-graders.

Areas targeted for cuts include:

* Thirty-four positions, most of them in the school system's central administrative offices. Eliminating them would save $1.6 million.

* Sports events would be shifted from evenings to afternoons to save on security guard costs and pay for coaching soccer and junior varsityfootball in August practice sessions, which would be eliminated. These measures would save $105,000.

* Schedule changes for school busing and other transportation cuts, saving $900,000.

The $183.7 million total does not include raises for school employees, who did not receive any pay increases this year after budget cuts left the school board without enough money to cover raises.

Teachers, whose contract called for a 6 percent salary increase and 2 percent experience increase, have protested the lack of raises by refusing to volunteer for after-school and evening tasks, such as chaperoning dances or sponsoring school clubs.

In 1992-1993, Mr. Hickey pledged, negotiated raises will be honored.

The board is currently negotiating salaries with school employee unions, and is expected to submit a supplemental budget request to County Executive Charles I. Ecker when agreements are reached.

The board will hold three public work sessions on the budget, then present it to Mr. Ecker on March 16.

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