School board considers proposed budget Plan would boost elementary staffs

February 18, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County school board was to vote late last night on the proposed $380.9 million operating budget for fiscal year 1994 that attempts to "bridge the gap" in elementary school staffing.

The plan proposes about $32 million more in spending than this year's operating budget of $348.7 million, and includes money for an additional 57 employees -- teachers, guidance counselors, secretaries and assistant principals -- for elementary schools.

After the school board acts on the proposed budget, it will be sent to County Executive Robert R. Neall. He will then act on it and present his version to the County Council, which must approve a final budget by June 1.

Nearly half of the $32 million increase comes from a $15 million Social Security charge the school system now must pay. As part of the state's most recent effort to balance its budget, local school systems must pick up the costs of teachers' Social Security benefits.

The additional staffing was a high priority of parents who responded to a report issued in November called "Bridging the Gap." The report documented 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 such schools have none.

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

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 in pay because of the furlough.

This could be the third year in a row pay increases have not been offered to county school employees. However, the board and school employees are still negotiating.

This month, Harford County school employees received a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment, their first pay increase in two years.

Baltimore County Superintendent Stuart Berger has proposed an across-the-board pay increase of $1,400 for each teacher. However, the proposed budget has not yet been approved.

Teachers unions in Baltimore City and in Carroll and Howard counties are either preparing to enter contract negotiations or are negotiating.

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