School board OKs $203 million budget Members add money to Hickey's proposal

February 24, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

The Howard County Board of Education approved a $203 million operating budget yesterday for the next school year, adding money to staff development and special education, and restoring money to pay for buses to keep school starting times the same.

The board's budget is roughly $1 million more than Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's proposal, which was largely driven by the new burden of paying Social Security costs for employees and the opening of two new schools.

The budget will be presented to County Executive Charles I. Ecker next month and must be approved by the County Council.

Despite the increase, board members say they aren't satisfied.

"There is a lot of unfunded need still in this budget -- and I say need, not want," said board Chairman Dana Hanna.

Not included in the budget is money to pay for salary increases for teachers, who are still in negotiations.

The board added:

* $360,000 for 10 new positions to a teaching pool that provides additional staff to schools that don't have enough teachers. The new positions bring the pool to a total of 26 -- still 12 positions fewer than three years ago. "Houses are selling," said board member Sandra French. "We've got to prepare for the students."

And Mr. Hanna said, "Our highly educated community is [saying] the teaching pool is where we must draw upon to alleviate the [crowding] situation." Close to a dozen parents had called him to ask for the increase, he said.

* $30,100 for one additional English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher to help foreign-born students. "We all felt they needed more staff," said Susan Cook, board vice chairwoman. "I feel this is a population we're not serving. We're really not treating them fairly."

* Close to $100,000 to hire another employee for the staff development office and to pay for substitutes when teachers attend workshops. Close to $7,000 of the money is ear marked for curriculum development.

* $360,000 back to transportation to keep high school starting times at 7:45 a.m. School officials had proposed starting 15 minutes earlier to save money. Although board members tabled the idea of charging a fee for students to ride buses, they said they would reconsider the idea if money from the state and county became tight.

* $100,000 for two additional psychologists. A contingent of parents and psychologists had lobbied for more positions at public hearings held earlier this month.

* About $95,000 to fund seminars to help administrators and teachers implement school-based management. The money also will pay for substitutes so teachers can attend workshops on closing the academic performance gap between minority and white students.

* $150,000 more for workshops and consultants to train general education teachers how to teach physically and learning disabled students. Director of special education Sandra Marx said the money still is not enough to implement a state-mandated program to "mainstream" special education students. While her office had requested more money to hire additional resource teachers and assistants, board members said they felt that general education teachers needed immediate help.

The board cut $150,000 in library book purchases for the new western high school and $250,000 due to revised car and liability insurance costs.

Superintendent Hickey said he was happy the board added money to his proposal. "The area where the board put additions, I agree totally," he said. "Because we were not trying to add new programs or make new program increases, we left them out and put the burden on the board."

The board also approved a $43 million capital budget for next year, as well as a $143 million, four-year capital improvement program request to renovate and build new schools.

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