Board OKs Balto. Co. school budget $516.9 million plan includes funds for detecting asbestos.

February 28, 1992|By Meredith Schlow | Meredith Schlow,Staff Writer

The Baltimore County Board of Education last night added $50,000 to Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel's proposed budget to fund a program to train school custodians to perform asbestos inspections.

Then the board unanimously approved the $516.9 million spending plan for the next academic year.

The budget, which calls for a $28 million, or 5.7 percent, increase over the current budget of $488.9 million, now goes to County Executive Roger B. Hayden for review before being sent to the County Council.

The $50,000 for the asbestos training program came in a written request by Councilman Vince Gardina, D-5th, in response to recent events at Sussex Elementary School in Essex. The school has been closed for asbestos abatement since the end of January.

The request should help to ease parents' concern that children may be unknowingly exposed to asbestos between inspections by experts certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Such inspections occur every three years. The custodians perform visual inspections every six months, but receive little training in asbestos detection.

Last night, the board also approved amendments to Dr. Dubel's proposed budget, which were made after new information indicated that additional funds had to be allocated in some areas.

The amendments dealt with personnel and maintenance. The personnel changes reduced spending by $378,537. An additional $63,594 for insurance was excised from the budget as a result of personnel changes.

The budget was further trimmed by $1.3 million through the reduction of utilities costs, which will be less than first estimated.

Health and dental benefit costs were over-estimated as well, officials said, trimming $931,480 from the proposal.

As a result of the reductions, the board approved Dr. Dubel's request to add $300,000 for maintenance that would enhance energy conservation.

The maintenance includes reinstallation of boilers and auxiliary equipment and steam-trap repairs. Long-term savings would result by replacing lighting fixtures.

The board also approved Dr. Dubel's request for $300,000 to provide county schools with an additional 134 computers, reducing the current student-to-computer ratio from 45.6-to-1 to 35.9-to-1.

The proposed budget, which is Dr. Dubel's last before he retires in June, does not include a request for an across-the-board raise for teachers. This would be the second year in succession that teachers would not receive a raise in pay. A 3 percent proposed increase last year was turned down.

With the 90,000-student population projected to grow by 3,563, the budget calls for an additional 244.6 positions.

In other business, the board approved sending students who graduate from Orems Elementary School to Stemmers Run Middle School to relieve overcrowding at Middle River Middle School. The board approved the move despite the objections of parents and students who would be affected.

With the six relocatable classrooms that are on site, Middle River has a capacity of 992 students. But current enrollment there is 1,013, with enrollment projected as high as 1,208 by the 1994-1995 school year. Stemmers Run, which has a capacity of 1,171 students, has 866 students this year.

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