School board hears litany of requests

January 24, 1993|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Robert S. Magee, the Aberdeen High principal, pleaded with the school board to think of some extraordinary students.

The ones who have babies or those who must work during the day could stay in school and graduate -- but only if they could take classes at night, Mr. Magee said.

"I need to have you think about this very seriously. These are not throwaways we are talking about. I am talking about children in every school in this county," he said.

Expanding the county's alternative education program, which serves only expelled or suspended students, could prevent many students from dropping out, he said.

The county's dropout rate is 3.2 percent, or about 260 students a year.

The evening classes also could help older students, those who have failed a grade or need only one or two classes to graduate, Mr. Magee said.

"I see children who are at the end of the line, who are quitting high school or are being asked to leave. An alternative education program that would reach them is sorely needed," he told the school board at its Tuesday night meeting on next year's proposed operating budget.

The school system has tentatively budgeted $240,000 to expand the alternative education program.

But Mr. Magee said he's worried the expansion will be axed -- as it was for the 1991 school year -- because of budget woes.

Mr. Magee was one of several speakers who petitioned the board for money to preserve programs or to pay for other requests. About 50 people attended the meeting.

Teachers in the audience, including Linda Engwall, an English teacher at Edgewood Middle School, groaned when the school board discussed removing some phones from schools.

School board member Ronald Eaton said he wanted a study on how many phones are in each school and how they are used. "We need to get a handle on communications costs in the schools," he said. Mr. Eaton said he was not suggesting that phones available for teachers' use be removed.

Ms. Engwall wants more phones for teachers. "There is a limited time we have access to phones because we are teaching," Ms. Engwall said. She said there's stiff competition for the one phone designated for the 60 or so teachers.

"Communicating with parents is an integral part of our jobs," she said. Like most teachers, Mrs. Engwall said she does most of her phoning from home.

Carol Kehring, president of the Harford County Home and Hospital Teachers Association, lobbied the board for annual pay increases.

Home teachers, who typically teach sick children who are out of school more than two weeks, make $13.60 an hour. Teachers are paid the same regardless of how many years they've taught, said Mary Hammond, who has taught more than 31 years.

Mrs. Kehring said home teachers also want to receive their checks every other week, as regular teachers do, instead of monthly.

Home teachers, whose wages are paid by the school system, average two to three students a week. The typical assignment lasts one to five months.

Home teachers in Maryland must have a bachelor's degree and most have a teaching certificate, she said.

Nancy Dorval, who lives in Jarrettsville, asked the school board to pay for buses for scholastic events. Her son, Mark, a sophomore at North Harford High, participates in "It's Academic" contests about four times a year.

"Academic competitions are as important, if not more so, than sports," she said.

Anne D. Sterling, school board president, said more than a third of the county's 4,100 bus trips last year were for athletic events.

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