Students who attend the Center of Applied Technology North to study welding and auto mechanics are ill-prepared to take jobs in those fields because of inadequate equipment there, says a group of county business managers.
"The entry-level technician is not equipped to work on cars," said Glen Burnie Auto Body owner Jim O'Brien. "It is too crowded. [Students] share the tools and they get discouraged pretty easily. They get discouraged and go to work at McDonald's."
Mr. O'Brien was one of about 250 people who came to the school board's public hearing Wednesday night on the proposed $89.5 million capital budget for fiscal year 1994.
Superintendent C. Berry Carter II's proposal is about four times the size of last year's request of $22.7 million that was submitted to the county. However, the council sliced that request nearly in half to $12 million.
Parents and community members came out to ask the school board to put enough money in the budget to improve school facilities.
Parents say they have been forced to lobby against one another for dwindling funds as the wish-list of construction projects grows.
"There's been a growing disparity between county schools," said Carol Scott, the parent of a fourth-grader at Belvedere Elementary.
Mrs. Scott questioned Mr. Carter's decision to place an addition for Broadneck High School -- a school that won't reach capacity for several years -- on the proposed list and not place Belvedere on the list, a school over capacity.
Automotive employers also pleaded for CAT North to be moved up higher on the priority list.
"There is a terrible shortage of training in the auto collision field," said Carl Nanney of Auto Collision Inc. "CAT North needs to upgrade in order to train people and fill needs. I ask that you take the capital project request from No. 26, where it's been for the last eight years, and to move it to No. 1."
Earl Murphy, the father of two Solley Elementary students, said the principal of his children's school was threatened with arrest after a PTA meeting. Mr. Murphy said the gathering at the 38-year-old school exceeded capacity and constituted a fire hazard.
Lane Heath testified that Deale Elementary, which is 180 percent over capacity, has roof leaks and an electrical system overload. "Computers are a joke because we can't even deal with the basics," she said.
Parent Robert Hermann said High Point and George Fox elementaries are both so overcrowded that the area may need two additional schools to handle the influx of students. Mr. Hermann said parents were willing to hold bake sales to pay for some of the smaller items, but said they can't do much more.
"We can't handle the cost of a new school unless you're prepared to buy an awful lot of cake," Mr. Hermann said. "It sort of reminds me of a sweat shirt I saw. It said, 'It'll be a great day when schools have all the money they need, and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to build a bomb.' "