School budget up $32 million Carter proposal seeks added staff

January 17, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Anne Arundel Superintendent C. Berry Carter II is expected to propose a $380.9 million budget to school board members Wednesday, a budget that attempts to compensate for understaffed and overcrowded elementary schools.

Mr. Carter's fiscal 1994 budget, about $32 million more than this year's operating budget of $348.7 million, requests funding for an additional 57 teachers, guidance counselors, secretaries and assistant principals in the county's 78 elementary schools.

"We've tried to help alleviate some of the staffing problems at the elementary level," said Kenneth Nichols, administrative assistant to the superintendent. "This won't fix the problem, but it will give some help to the elementary schools."

Elementary schools with 500 or more students are supposed to have an assistant principal. But a dozen schools with 500 or more students have no assistant principal.

The school system also has recommended one guidance counselor for every 300 students. But only eight elementary schools have even one full-time guidance counselor. The current guidance counselor-to-student ratio is 835-to-1.

Finally, the report recommended an additional 152 secretaries for the elementary schools.

Under the current fiscal constraints, Mr. Nichols said there was no way the superintendent could request all the positions needed to adequately staff the schools. But the proposed budget has requested 38 additional secretaries at $788,500; four new assistant principals at $242,880; and five additional guidance counselors at $215,000.

"I have long felt that the number of secretaries we have is short of the mark," Mr. Nichols said. "For the work we ask these ladies to do, and for what we pay them, we just don't have enough."

The superintendent has requested 10 new teaching positions at $300,000. Mr. Nichols said the superintendent was able to cut back on the number of teachers requested by scaling back the teacher-student ratios to fiscal year 1992 levels. Class size would actually increase by two or three students.

Nearly half of the $32 million increase comes from a $15 million Social Security charge the school system now must pay. As part of the state's most recent effort to balance its budget, local school systems must pick up the costs of teachers' Social Security benefits.

While what's in the budget is interesting, just as interesting is what's not there -- cost-of-living adjustments for school employees. If accepted by the school board and approved by the County Council, this would be the third year in a row pay increases have not been offered.

"This was not unexpected because we're still under negotiations," said Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC). "We hope to be able to convince the board to include wage and salary increases, especially in light of the county executive saying [Thursday] he will give county employees wage increases."

County Executive Robert R. Neall said last week he would not offer wage increases for county employees this year. But Mr. Neall said he would like to reorganize the county into a healthy government that would be able to offer COLAs to employees.

"If this were the final say, we would be upset, but this is not the final say," Mr. Paolino said. "We still have two more negotiation sessions scheduled with the board, and we're hoping for real progress."

The school board has scheduled public hearings for Feb. 3 and 10 on Mr. Carter's proposed budget. Members will then pass a spending plan and send it on to the County Council, which wields ultimate authority.

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