Vote is set for tonight on 1994 school budget Many fear proposal is inadequate

February 17, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education is scheduled to vote tonight on Superintendent C. Berry Carter II's proposed $380.9 million budget.

Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, has called Mr. Carter's proposal a "make-do budget." One board member questioned early whether $380.9 million would be enough to keep the school system operating.

The board has spent the past month attending public hearings and taking calls from residents who want to ensure Mr. Carter gets what he's asking for. In many cases, they've asked that the board add money. Few have requested that anything be cut.

Some 400 parents have crowded into two public hearings on the budget proposal for fiscal 1994, which begins July 1. Nearly all of them want more -- more teachers, more administrators, more counselors, more elementary school secretaries.

The proposed budget includes money for an additional 57 employees -- teachers, guidance counselors, secretaries and assistant principals -- for elementary schools.

Those requests were in response to a report issued in November called "Bridging the Gap," which documented what it reported are inadequacies in staffing among elementary schools. Schools with 500 or more students are supposed to have an assistant principal, for example. But a dozen of those schools have no assistant principal.

The report also recommends one guidance counselor for every 300 students. But the current ratio of students to guidance counselors is 835 to 1. Only eight of the county's 78 elementary schools have one full-time counselor.

Since the report was issued, parents have shown up at school board meetings waving copies like banners.

The proposed budget does not include any cost-of-living adjustments for school system employees, which has fueled the anger teachers already feel over being furloughed for 3.2 days last year as a cost-saving measure.

County teachers and secretaries filed suit against the school board and the county last week to return the $4.3 million teachers lost because of the furlough.

The board's approved budget will be sent to County Executive Robert R. Neall, who will then present his version to the County Council. A final budget must be approved by June 1.

Today's meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at Board of Education headquarters, 2644 Riva Road in Annapolis.

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