Superintendent's bare bones budget, with no pay increases, still jumps by 9%

January 21, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Anne Arundel School Superintendent C. Berry Carter II last night proposed a $380.9 million spending plan for the next school year that he said would not come close to providing for all the system's needs.

The spending plan seeks funding for 10 new teachers but provides no pay increases for school system employees for the third year in a row.

"There is a 9 percent increase above the current budget," Mr. Carter told the school board. "But this does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mine or yours or anyone else's, include all of the things we want."

Still, he tried to shine a positive light on his fiscal 1994 spending plan.

"I am very proud of the job staff and teachers have done under the most difficult of circumstances," Mr. Carter said. "Despite all of the streamlining, I think we all can be very proud that very little of these hard reductions reached the classroom level. Most of the students went on feeling they were getting a good education."

The proposed budget -- $32 million more than this year's operating budget of $348.7 million -- attempts to compensate for understaffed and overcrowded elementary schools. The superintendent requested funding for an additional 57 employees -- teachers, guidance counselors, secretaries and assistant principals for the county's 78 elementary schools.

"We're down nearly a hundred positions," Mr. Carter said.

One of the more troubling aspects of the budget is that it does not include cost-of-living adjustments for school system employees, Mr. Carter said.

School budget officer Jack White said increasing employees' salaries by a mere 1 percent would increase the proposed budget by $2.5 million.

If no pay increase is granted, this would be the third year in a row none has been offered.

Mr. Carter also requested $250,000 for staff development and training, compared with no funding for training in this year's budget. "This is a very important item," he said.

Nearly half of the $32 million increase -- $15 million -- will pay teachers' Social Security benefits. As part of the state's most recent effort to balance its budget, local school systems must pick up these costs.

Board member Jo Ann Tollenger said she doubted the proposed budget would allow the school system to continue to provide adequate services to the students.

"This $380 million, does it really get us home?" Ms. Tollenger asked. "In reality, are we keeping our head above water? Year after year, to ask our employees not to get a raise is going to erode good people from coming into the county.

"With all the cuts over the years, how much has education gained? We are not going to meet a lot of needs. With everything I add with my right hand, I'm taking [away] with my left hand. We're not adding anything. We're moving things around," she said.

The school board has scheduled public hearings on the proposed budget on Feb. 3 at Board of Education Headquarters and Feb. 10 at Old Mill High School.

The school board will adopt a budget on Feb. 17.

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