Hickey pledges to preserve raises $5 million must be cut from budget

April 23, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Howard County Schools Superintendent Michael E. Hickey, asked to trim more than $5 million from next year's proposed operating budget, pledged last night not to cut negotiated salary increases for teachers.

Mr. Hickey also said that County Executive Charles I. Ecker backed away from commitments he made to the school system by ordering the cut.

"He made a commitment to us that he would fully fund the Social Security cost to us and [the projected] growth [in the student population]," Mr. Hickey said. Mr. Ecker had promised to give the schools an additional $12 million, he said.

Mr. Hickey said the $12 million would not cover the $7 million cost of paying Social Security benefits for school employees and the $8 million needed to accommodate the 1,500 new students expected to enter county schools next school year.

The school board has requested $208 million for next year, a figure that includes $3 million that would cover 3 percent salary increase for teachers.

About $155 million of the proposed budget would be funded by the county and the remainder by the state.

But Mr. Ecker asked for the schools to trim the proposal, leaving the county share at about $150 million.

listing areas that may be cut, Mr. Hickey stressed that they were not final recommendations. "We wanted to bring this out as a beginning point for us," he said.

The five-member Board of Education had grave faces as Superintendent Hickey listed the proposed cuts, among them:

* Trimming about $650,000 in transportation costs by starting high schools 15 minutes earlier at 7:30 a.m., increasing walking distance by one-fourth of a mile and reducing bus service for athletic competitions. Cutting another $190,000 by reducing the number of buses that transport parochial school students.

* Postponing buying textbooks for the new western high school, a savings of $600,000. School officials had hoped to have the new textbooks by next school year when Wilde Lake High School students will be shifted to the new school while Wilde Lake is being renovated.

* Placing a one-year moratorium on buying textbooks to save about $730,000 and eliminate golf and gymnastics from interscholastic athletics to save $75,000. Reducing the number of new teachers who are to be hired to save $585,000.

* Reducing health insurance funding and eliminating fringe benefits that would have gone to new teachers, saving more than $405,000.

* Reducing the budget to repair school buildings, buy maintenance equipment and hire general maintenance workers, saving about $535,000.

Mr. Ecker had also proposed giving teachers a 1 percent salary increase effective July 1, the date their new contract takes effect, and a 3 percent increase on Jan. 1. But Mr. Hickey said the school system would honor the teachers' agreement, which gives some teachers a 2.5 percent increase June 30 and all teachers a 3 percent across-the-board raise on July 1.

In other matters, the school board:

* Appointed Owen Brown Middle School Assistant Principal Michael Goins as acting principal, effective immediately. He replaces Walter Caldwell Sr., who died last week of a heart attack.

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