Many sign up to speak at school budget hearing

February 02, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

More than 50 residents have signed up to speak at tonight's hearing on Howard County School Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's $213.6 million operating budget proposal for the 1994-'95 fiscal year.

The hearing is a prelude to a series of work sessions by the five-member Board of Education in the next two weeks, leading up to a vote on the budget Feb. 22.

Among the topics on tonight's agenda are equity of funding among schools, more funding for counselors, special education and private and public school bus transportation.

Many of those who signed up to testify have indicated that they would make only general comments about Dr. Hickey's proposed budget, said Julene Crooks, board secretary.

"There's no specific topic coming out," Ms. Crooks said. "It looks like it's going to be [an] across-the-board [discussion]."

Dr. Hickey's proposal reflects a 4.3 percent increase from the

1993-94 school year's $204.7 million budget and does not include money for pay raises for teachers or other school employees.

It calls for a $4.1 million increase in instructional spending to expand the pool of teachers for overcrowded schools and for schools with special needs, such as those with a high number of students from low-income families. That teacher pool would grow to 40.5 positions, an increase of 18 positions, under Dr. Hickey's proposal.

Roughly $1 million of Dr. Hickey's budget would be earmarked for new, more modern equipment at older schools, including copiers and computers, a continuing request from parents concerned about equity between new and older schools.

And about $1.5 million would be used for 61 new special education positions to handle increased enrollment and to pay the costs of including special education students in regular classrooms.

Last year, more than 75 residents signed up to speak at two nights of budget hearings.

The hearing starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Department of Education on 10910 Route 108 in Ellicott City. A second hearing, which had been scheduled for tomorrow night,has been canceled.

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