School Board Expected To Bring Back Some Deleted Jobs

February 23, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

The school board appears likely to put back some of the 34 staff positions that Superintendent Michael E. Hickey took away from his 1992-1993 operating budget proposal.

Two private schools' requests for public school bus transportation are unlikely to fare as well.

The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday to put together the budgetrequest it will send to County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

The board may shift money between budget categories and possibly increase Hickey's $183.7 million total request.

The request, which would require $142.3 million from the county, does not include salary increases for school employees.

Hickey said he had hoped to have a dollar amount for the budget the board must send to Ecker by March 16, but the board still is negotiating with school employee unions.

Board members ended three evenings of budget discussions last week with a consensus in favor of restoring at least some of Hickey's cuts to the Black Student Achievement Program, pupil personnel workers, psychologists and resource teachers who help classroom teachers with innovativeprograms.

Those positions received strong support from speakers at the Feb. 11 school budget hearing. Most board members said the the BSAP advocates' tactics -- picketing, displaying a sign saying "We Are Watching You" and a warning to board members that "We will be on your doorsteps with bullhorns" -- left them feeling threatened.

The BSAP advocates were reacting to Hickey's proposal to eliminate one ofthree staff positions from the program, a cut they saw as crippling,given the small size of the staff.

Board Vice Chairman Dana F. Hanna said last week that he had found some impressive successes in theprogram.

Black student participation in gifted and talented programs is higher in schools that have the program, and black high schoolstudents' grade-point averages generally are higher in BSAP schools,he found.

Board members are trying to balance the financial constraints of a tight budget year against the fact that, in Hanna's words, "Whatever we don't ask for, we cannot get." Both the executive and County Council can cut the school budget, but legally can't increase it over the school board's request.

Four of the five board membershave said they have no problem increasing Hickey's requested total, but they also are looking for money that could be moved within the budget to restore some positions.

The board could free about $182,000 by denying requests for public bus transportation from two private schools, Chapelgate Presbyterian Academy and Glenelg Country School, a move that a majority indicated they would support.

Board member Karen B. Campbell, a longtime opponent of public school busing for private school students, said she found it "unconscionable" to expand non-public school busing when public school programs are being cut.

Board Chairman Deborah D. Kendig and member Ruth Y. Hutchinson supported Campbell's position. Hanna, who belongs to Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, said he saw no conflict of interest and will oppose Campbell's motion because of his conviction that bus transportation should be equitable.

Glenelg Country headmaster Ryland O. Chapman III didnot respond to a request for comment on the prospective impact if the school does not receive public busing. Chapelgate headmaster James DiVirgilio was on vacation last week and could not be reached for comment.

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