Schools hope U.S. eases cuts Plan jeopardizes tutoring programs BALTIMORE CITY

February 10, 1993|By Mark Bomster and Michael Dresser | Mark Bomster and Michael Dresser,Staff Writers

Baltimore schools could lose $8.2 million in federal funds next school year from a popular program that pays for tutors, field trips and other help for low-income students with academic problems.

School officials say a projected 16.4 percent reduction in federal Chapter 1 funds, resulting from population losses documented in the 1990 Census, could force some schools out of the program in a kind of educational triage.

The Chapter 1 program received $50 million in federal funds for the current school year.

A cutback in funding also could delay plans to contract with Sylvan Learning Systems, a private tutoring company in Columbia, to provide remedial instruction for students at five Baltimore schools, according to school Superintendent Walter G. Amprey.

The Sylvan contract was to have been on the agenda for today's Board of Estimates meeting, Sylvan officials said.

Earlier this week, Dr. Amprey said he had forwarded the school system's contract request to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in light of the new Chapter 1 budget figures.

The superintendent said it was possible the Sylvan contract could be delayed a year, or modified to cover fewer schools.

But he added that he remains enthusiastic about the concept, and said he hopes the Sylvan deal won't fall victim to the budget ax.

"I just feel that so many times we do that when money gets tight," Dr. Amprey said.

The superintendent said census figures forced a shift in program funds from Baltimore and other Northeastern cities to the South and West.

According to the Census, the city's population declined 6.5 percent to 736,014 in 1990, while total school enrollment, including private and parochial schools, dropped 23.8 percent to 131,233.

The Chapter 1 program received $50 million in federal funding for the current school year to serve a total of 79 public schools and about 26,000 students in public and nonpublic institutions.

City officials remain hopeful that President Clinton will approve a one-time grant to at least partially offset the Chapter 1 cuts this year.

Should the cuts go forward, the school system could be forced to refigure its allocations for all of the Chapter 1 schools, said Dr. Samuel L. Banks, who oversees the city's compensatory education programs.

That could result in the neediest schools once again receiving services and others losing out, Dr. Banks said, though the options have yet to be discussed with Chapter 1 principals.

"It would increase the level of triage, how many could be saved," he said.

This school year, 33 Baltimore schools lost all their Chapter I funding because of a policy decision to concentrate such porograms in schools whose students are the most disadvantaged.

That decision caused anguish among parents and administrators, who said that many worthy stu- dents were closed out of the program.

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