Furlough Money Faceoff

April 26, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

Unless the county commissioners play their hand, teachers and other school staff will be getting back their furlough pay and earning it with an extra day of work at the end of the school year.

But beforeteachers make any plans for the money, they would do well to wait and see whether the commissioners overrule the Board of Education.

The board and the commissioners will meet at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow to discuss the furlough pay and the school system's request for another $3.6 million for the 1993 budget.

Last Wednesday, the school board voted unanimously to rescind the two furlough days it had imposed on staff for the current budget year. The action was the fulfillment of a promise the board made when it furloughed staff last January. Members had said they would rescind the furloughs if state cuts were not as severe as predicted.

"They committed themselves to reinstating those days -- they did the honest thing," Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said of the board.

But the commissioners never committed, he said. This year, the commissioners are the ones who count, because of the line-item veto power given them by the General Assembly for the current budget year only.

"I never ever wanted to use that," Dell said of the line-item veto. He said he wants the commissioners and board to try to work things out together.

In a separate 4-1 vote Wednesday, the board also asked the county to give the school system $3.6 million to make up for state cuts to the 1993 budget and topay for employee raises.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said he doesnot favor restoring the furlough money. For starters, he said, the $700,000 it would cost to restore those wages could be rolled over to the 1993 budget to alleviate the state cuts.

"There is the $3.6 million that has to be met and that has to come from somewhere," Lippy said. "I'm not taking a whack at the teachers at all. I think it's only fair if we're not giving back the furlough days to the county staff."

But the school board and school union leaders are urging the commissioners to do just that.

Lippy said that while state cuts forthe current budget year turned out to be less than expected, "we're not out of the woods yet.

The request for the 1993 school budget breaks down to:

* $2 million to replace state cuts to transportation that would put it back to a 1982 level of funding, said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling.

* $1.3 million for employee raises. Negotiations with all school staff are about to begin. Board President Cheryl A. McFalls voted against the $3.6 million request because she objected to asking for the money for pay raises. "I don't believe the economy has turned around enough to be putting money into negotiations."She said the board could have gone to the commissioners after negotiations, if necessary, but she thought it was premature to ask for money now.

* $254,000 to replace state cuts in paying private school tuition for Carroll children whose special needs can't be met by county schools.

* $88,000 to replace state cuts to driver education.

* $50,184 to replace state cuts to pupil services including adult general education and the external diploma program.

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