Carroll school bus contractors last night asked county school officials for an increase in their payment formula, which has remained unchanged for three years.
Paul D. Rill of Rill Bus Service in Westminster and seven other contractors made the request at the school staff's first budget hearing last night at South Carroll High School.
The $118 million budget proposal for the 1993-1994 school year represents a 6.4 percent increase over the current year's budget, counting mid- year cuts that were made last month. Most of the increases are due to growing enrollment -- the schools expect 600 more students next year -- and increased health insurance costs for employees.
Last night's meeting was the first of three public hearings to be held by the superintendent and his staff on the proposed school budget.
Mr. Rill said bus company costs have increased for insurance, buses, parts, equipment and drug testing.
"We need an increase in our funding just to stay even," he said.
Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said the original budget proposal contained a 5 percent increase for the bus contractors, but it was removed as the administration tried to pare down the budget.
Mr. Shilling invited Mr. Rill and the other bus contractors to meet with his staff within the next few days to present a case to the school board for restoring the increase.
Assistant Superintendent William Hyde said the 5 percent increase would have amounted to about $377,000 for the year.
Carroll currently spends over $8 million to transport more than 90 percent of the children who attend county schools.
Other than the bus contractors, who said they shared Mr. Rill's concern, two other parents spoke.
Mike Roland of Hughes Shop Road in Westminster thanked the school officials for supporting special education, which will see an increase this year of $783,007 to accommodate increased enrollment.
But Mr. Roland urged school officials to cut back on
conferences, trips and food.
Mr. Shilling said the school system already has cut back on such expenses, and pays only for conferences required in employee contracts. Coffee and refreshments are served at training sessions, he said.
Bud Herndon of Eldersburg, a member of the Carroll County Council of PTAs, urged a more active attempt to reduce class sizes in the schools.
Mr. Shilling said the school board is trying to be realistic in its budget request to the county.
"I don't believe you're going to see the board add another 25 teachers to this budget, unless you see an outpouring from the community saying that's what they want," the superintendent said.
The next two public hearings will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at North Carroll High School in Hampstead and at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at West Middle School in Westminster.
The school board is due to vote on the budget at the Feb. 18 hearing.