If at first you don't succeed . . .
The Anne Arundel County Board of Education will try again tonight to adopt an operating budget for fiscal year 1994. The board voted last Wednesday to postpone its vote, to give staff members an opportunity to find money for new guidance counselors.
"If I do nothing else, I want to do this," board member Jo Ann Tollenger said last week about funding the counselor positions.
Board President Vincent O. Leggett refused to predict the outcome of tonight's meeting. He said board members have not reached a consensus on much of anything.
However, Mr. Leggett said he is concerned that some members might attempt to cut a proposed position for a director of community outreach and business partnership to pay for an additional guidance counselor.
Board member Maureen Carr York said no decision and no deals had been made concerning either guidance counselors or the director of community outreach positions. But Mrs. Carr York said she is concerned over how the director's position fits in with the planned reorganization of the administration.
"I think the director's position is a good idea," she said. "But it seems to me it's something we cannot do unless it fits into the organizational chart. I just want to know, where does it fit in?"
Guidance counselors for elementary schools were requested by nearly every parent who testified during two public hearings on the budget earlier this month.
Many were responding to a report issued in November called "Bridging the Gap." The report documented inadequacies in staffing among elementary schools, particularly with regard to guidance counselors, assistant principals and secretaries.
School Superintendent C. Berry Carter II submitted an amended $383.4 million budget last week, about $3 million more than the budget he submitted in January. The new version includes money for an additional 57 employees -- teachers, guidance counselors, secretaries and assistant principals -- for elementary schools. The increase over last year's budget is $34 million, or 9.9 percent.
Mr. Carter has asked for five counselors in his proposed budget. Last week, board members voted to eliminate six of 12 requested positions from the visiting teachers category, to fund four 10-month guidance counselor positions.
Visiting teachers visit the homes of parents who are too busy or otherwise unable to meet with teachers at school.
Board members have said they would like to fund eight additional guidance counselor positions, for a total of 17 -- giving the school system enough guidance counselors to ensure one in each of the 78 elementary schools.
After the school board acts on the proposed budget, it will be sent to County Executive Robert R. Neall. He then will present his own version of the budget to the County Council, which must approve a final budget by June 1.
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 earlier this month to return the $4.3 million teachers lost in pay because of the furlough.
This could be the third year in a row school employees have not received pay increases. The board and unions representing school employees are still negotiating.