School budget again omits cost-of-living raises

February 26, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

For the third year in a row, Anne Arundel County teachers will have to forgo cost-of-living raises.

The school board adopted late Wednesday an operating budget of $383.4 million for fiscal 1994, which begins July 1, that includes no cost-of-living raises for school employees.

"At this time, the only thing we could include in this year's budget is money for step increases," said board President Vincent O. Leggett. "We remain committed, steadfast and unmovable in our support of our employees."

Board members agreed to write County Executive Robert R. Neall, asking him to add pay raises to the education budget if county revenues increase beyond projections.

But Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said the letter would do nothing for workers he represents.

"I am appalled and dumbfounded by the complete lack of courage and vision displayed by the board," he said after the vote. "Their action tonight shows a total lack of support and real concern for their employees."

The board fell short twice Wednesday night of the votes needed to pass the operating budget, then unanimously adopted a capital budget of $105 million before taking a break and returning to approve the operating budget.

Jo Ann Tollenger cast the lone dissenting vote.

"This budget doesn't meet students' needs, it doesn't meet employees' needs," Ms. Tollenger said. "And frankly, I don't know how to resolve that pay issue."

The figure the board adopted matches the one Superintendent C. Berry Carter II submitted in his amended plan last week, and it is about $34 million greater than the current budget.

Board member Maureen Carr York said she had difficulty adopting a budget for which the county executive had set a "target" amount for the final total.

Mr. Neall has said if the board brought its budget in at the right number, he would not go through it line by line making cuts.

The board did achieve a couple of its other objectives when it voted to eliminate 12 visiting teacher's positions to provide elementary schools with 17 more guidance counselors, a priority of parents.

Guidance counselors for elementary schools were requested by nearly every parent who testified at two public hearings on the budget earlier this month.

The board also voted to include $50,000 in its budget to fund the new position of director of community outreach/partnership to develop more partnerships between businesses and the schools.

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