Hearing set today on school budget $118M proposal is 6.4% increase

February 11, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

The public will have a first look tonight at details of the $118 million budget proposed by a school system that attributes major cost increases to growing enrollment and health insurance.

The first of three budget hearings will be at 7:30 p.m. today at South Carroll High School. The others will be at the same time Tuesday at North Carroll High School and Feb. 18 at West Middle School. The board is expected to vote on approving the request at the Feb. 18 hearing.

The proposal represents a 4 percent increase over what the schools originally got this year. But, it translates to a 6.4 percent increase over what they ended up with after state cuts were handed down in December.

The original budget approved last June was $113.6 million. In January, the county asked the schools to cut another $2.47 million from that budget, after the state legislature voted to stop paying a portion of social security taxes for teachers and took that money away from counties.

That cut trimmed the actual budget figure for this current year to $111 million.

The system expects 600 additional students next year, which Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said was the equivalent of a whole elementary school. However, those new students will be spread over all grade levels.

Highlights of the increases, most of which accommodate the growing enrollment, include:

* The equivalent of 52 new full-time positions -- from instruction through custodial -- that will cost about $1.3 million, not counting fringe benefits, Social Security and pension contributions by the school system.

* About $1.1 million more in health and dental insurance costs.

* An additional $366,910 in Social Security payments. Much of that is because the state no longer pays a large portion of the payments for teachers, but some is also for new positions in other areas, said James Reter, director of budget and finance.

Also, the schools will pay another $134,196 in retirement and pension funds for the increased staff.

* An increase of $574,113 for plant operations, which means custodians and utilities. Much of the increase is due to opening new schools, Mr. Reter said.

* Another $241,594 for student transportation.

* A total of $783,007 more for special education, although $239,351 of that amount is reflected in the $1.3 million for new positions.

The budget includes increment and longevity raises for staff, but does not offer a line item for across-the-board cost-of-living raises, Mr. Shilling said.

"That does not mean we are going to enter negotiations with the [position that] there will be no pay increases," Mr. Shilling said.

As with other years, if the board approves pay raises, it may ask the county for more money or have the administration get the amount from other areas of the budget.

Mr. Shilling also said he would recommend waiting until the schools know how much money they will get from the county before ratifying contracts with the bargaining groups.

The board met for several hours in closed session afterward to discuss how much members would be willing to set aside for pay raises.

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