School budget talks address crowding Red worn by some to protest teacher pay

May 12, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Teachers asked for raises and parents pressed for new schools to relieve crowding during an Anne Arundel County Council hearing last night on the proposed school budget.

The hearing at Old Mill High School, the second of four budget hearings this week, was a fairly low-key affair that drew fewer than 100 people.

Fewer than 25 people addressed the council.

County Executive Robert R. Neall is proposing a $383.5 million operating budget for the Board of Education for fiscal 1994, an increase of $34.7 million over this year and 57 percent of the county's general fund.

Although the board requested $105 million worth of capital building projects, the proposed capital budget devotes $36 million to education, or 34 percent of the proposal.

Several who attended the hearing wore red shirts, blouses and dresses to express solidarity with county teachers who will not receive a cost-of-living increase for the third straight year.

"If you are seeing a lot of red tonight, it is because there are a lot of angry people in this room this evening," said Thomas J. Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. "They are angry about what this budget proposal will do to education and educators in this county."

Donald Counts, a teacher at Arundel Middle School, told the council that he and his colleagues spend much of their "free" time doing paperwork.

"I realized how much time I spend when my 4-year-old watched me grading papers for I don't know how many nights . . . and said, 'Gee, Dad. You sure have a lot of papers to color,' " Mr. Counts related.

"I feel to go a third year without a cost-of-living increase is unjustifiable."

Barbara Domino, president of the South Shore Elementary PTA and the mother of a first-grader, said the extra elementary school staffing promised in the proposed budget could actually present a problem.

"More staff would be wonderful for your school. The problem is, there would be no place to put them," she said.

Maria Wertz, parent of a child at Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park, asked the council to provide money to renovate the building.

She said the school is so crowded and in such poor repair that she fears for the safety of her child.

"In the front hallway are beautiful blueprints for our new school. But they're just pieces of paper," Ms. Wertz said.

She also urged funding to renovate a building that will house Andover Middle School.

The school was passed over in this year's budget.

"We need funding," Ms. Wertz said. "And we need it tonight. Not next week, not next year. Tonight."

Earlier yesterday, Michael Raible, director of planning and construction for the school system, explained to the council that Andover Middle School is currently first on the school system's list of building priorities.

But it was No. 8 on a list presented to the state when the county was requesting funds for school construction.

Mr. Raible said it is unlikely the state would help fund construction of Andover Middle School because the state's overriding criterion for school funding is to relieve crowding, and that is not a problem in North County schools, according to the state.

He said that the county would likely have to foot the entire $13.9 million cost for the facility, which is scheduled for construction in 1996.

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