Teachers would get experience in preschool program

June 15, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

County school officials plan to use less experienced teachers and assistants in a program for poor preschoolers, then move them to elementary school classrooms after they have five years' experience.

Linda Boyd, coordinator of Early Childhood Education, said she recommended the plan as a way to limit the amount the county must pay to supplement the state-funded program.

But Thomas Paolino, president of Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, objects to using the program as a kind of training ground -- "doing it on the cheap," he calls it.

The county Board of Education is to vote on the plan at its meeting tomorrow night.

The state pays local school systems a flat rate for the Extended Elementary Education Program (EEEP), based on the number of schools in which it is offered. Local systems make up the difference between that sum -- up to $60,000 per school -- and the cost of having a teacher and assistant in each preschool class.

The gap has been growing as the county's ability to pay has declined, said Jack White, school system budget officer. This year, the county has pumped about $100,000 into the developmental program for 4-year-olds, he said.

The program runs full time at nine schools and half time at another for 380 children. The state has agreed to fund two more sites at $60,000 for another 80 youngsters. But school officials say they would have to staff the new locations with relatively inexperienced teachers and assistants to stay under $60,000.

There are no teachers at beginning levels now, though a few classroom assistants are near or at entry levels, budget figures show. Most of the teachers have at least five years' experience. One teacher, earning about $46,100, is at a salary level indicating at least 20 years of teaching experience, and that salary plus benefits tops $60,000. The plan would not apply to teachers and assistants already in the program.

Other school systems, such as Montgomery County's, hire less experienced teachers for their preschool class to keep costs down.

But Montgomery County is not pushing those teachers out as they gain experience, said Alan Kaplan, management and budget specialist there. Montgomery County is trying to bargain with the state school superintendent to reduce from seven to six the additional classes the state wants it to run next year to keep costs under budget.

Mrs. Boyd said that motivated young teachers bring fresh ideas and energy to the classes. "They really are highly effective," she said.

She said that transferring the teachers into elementary classrooms after a few years would not be problematic because they would be qualified.

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