School board to submit $89 million budget for approval

September 16, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Even though the county is anticipating sharp cuts in state aid, school officials are preparing an $89 million capital budget they say is necessary to avoid overcrowded schools.

"To the extent that any of these [projects] are not funded, we end up doing a balancing act," said Director of Planning and Construction Michael Raible. "None of the items are frivolous."

The Board of Education has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed capital budget at 7:30 tonight at the school headquarters, 2644 Riva Road.

Superintendent C. Berry Carter II's proposal, which is about four times the size of last year's request, includes construction money for seven schools and 35 requests for projects such as replacing and reinsulating boilers at some schools, replacing roofs at others, asbestos removal and portable classrooms.

The construction money would be allocated to Meade Heights )) Elementary, Andover Middle, Solley Elementary, Park Elementary, Deale Elementary, CAT North, and Meade Area Middle schools.

Last year, the school system submitted a $22.7 million capital budget to the County Council. The council sliced that request nearly in half to $12 million, a figure school officials characterized as woefully inadequate.

While it is unlikely that the school system will receive nearly the amount it has asked for, Mr. Raible said the requests are "bunched into one year" to try to make up for the money it did not receive last year.

"What we're trying to accomplish with the $89 million is a series of things," Mr. Raible said. "First, we have to try and accommodate the students in the new growth area."

The school system is expecting more than 2,000 new students each year for the next ten years.

In addition, Mr. Raible said, the capital proposal seeks to account for mandatory asbestos-abatement programs and avoid the health problems caused by aging and faulty roofs.

The school system also is trying to shorten its cycle for school renovations. Mr. Raible said officials originally planned a 40-year cycle, but that has been stretched to 109 years because of the lack of money.

"This reinforces what we've been preaching for the last couple of years," he said. "We either have to find more money, or come up with new uses for the schools like split sessions or year-round schools. It's not a pretty picture."

The board also is to appoint a team to negotiate new contracts with school employee unions. The negotiations are expected to be difficult because teachers and others have not received cost-of-living raises for two years.

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