Proposed changes in Maryland high school graduation requirements could cost the county school system $2.2 million.
School officials say they will have to add mathematics, science and foreign-language teachers to meet additional course requirements and spend $500,000 on equipment, most of it to update computers for a proposed technology education program.
Maryland school systems projected a total cost of $38 million forthe changes, a figure that state Board of Education members greeted with skepticism at last month's board meeting. State education officials are reviewing the estimates submitted by the state's 24 school systems.
Superintendent Michael E. Hickey said last week that he hadnot received any questions from state education officials. He expressed confidence in Howard's estimate.
"I felt ours was very straightforward," Hickey said. "I think we'd send the same thing in again."
Proposed graduation requirement changes include: a third year of science, which will raise the total number of credits a student must earn from 20 to 21; a required technology education course, which willbe substituted for the existing practical arts requirement; and two years of foreign language or advanced technology for students planning to enter college.
Social studies and math requirements would remain at three credits each, but students would have fewer elective courses. Students would also be required to complete 75 hours of community service or participate in an alternative service program designed by the local school system.
Brenda K. Allen, an administrative assistant who put together the cost estimate for the county school system, calculated expenses at $740,000 for new staff members, $530,000 for additional equipment, $583,000 for supplies and materials, $217,000for curriculum development, plus smaller expenses for staff development and miscellaneous items such as designing new tests.
State Department of Education spokesman Ronald A. Peiffer said it is unclear whether the state will provide additional aid for the new graduation requirements. But graduation requirement changes in the past have not been met by increased state aid, he said.
The state board may voteon the changes at its April 28 and 29 meetings, Peiffer said. He said the board will not vote until after a 30-day comment period that follows publication of the proposed changes, including a cost estimate,in the Maryland Register.
Publication is being delayed while state education officials try to scale back the cost figures submitted bylocal districts.