Baltimore County officials announced plans today to expand the public school system's kindergarten program in 32 schools and proposed an alternative middle school program that will keep expelled students in classes during regular school hours.
Both plans would require adding new teachers.
About 2,000 of the county's projected 7,000 kindergarten students will receive all-day instruction, part of new school Superintendent Stuart Berger's plan to improve early childhood education during the 1992-93 school year.
"What we believe is that the earlier you get involved with youngsters the easier it is," said Dr. Berger. "It's very difficult to remediate."
The superintendent also proposed 8.4 positions for special kindergarten classes and 4.5 positions for instructional assistants who will teach at the two special education schools slated for the kindergarten expansion.
Elimination of mid-day transportation for kindergarten students will partially fund the expansion, which will cost $2.3 million. Additional cuts totaling about $2 million will be made in other transportation programs and in food services, textbook purchases and paper expenses.
Dr. Berger said he was confident the cuts in textbook purchases would not dramatically affect the classroom.
For school officials to transfer funds and utilize them for other other purposes, transfers of less than 10 percent must be approved by the county executive. The County Council must approve transfers of more than 10 percent.
"These changes clearly illustrate a willingness on the part of the Board of Education, County Executive and County Council to work cooperatively on education issues," said Dr. Berger.
These schools will be involved in the kindergarten program: Battle Grove, Battle Monument, Bear Creek, Berkshire, Charlesmont, Church Lane, Colgate, Deer Park, Edgemere, Elmwood, Featherbed Lane, Grange, Hawthorne, Hebbville, Hillendale, Logan, Martin Boulevard, McCormick, Owings Mills, Powhatan, Riverview, Rolling Road, Sandalwood, Sandy Plains, Scotts Branch, Seneca, Shady Spring, Sussex, Wellwood, Winand, Winfield and Woodmoor.
The program for expelled students calls for the addition of four middle school alternative program teachers.
Currently, expelled middle school students attend a twilight program from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
The change would provide all day classes for expelled students at one of five county sites.
Middle schools with high numbers of suspensions and expulsions may receive one of 10 resource teachers to work with trouble students. Ed Veit, president of Teachers Association of Baltimore County [TABCO], called the proposed changes "an interesting precedent and I'm glad to see it happen.
"We had a tendency in the past to be locked in [to the budget]," Mr. Veit said. "This is a major shift. Certainly the addition of teachers excites the heck out of us."