Many demand more from budget

February 16, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

Parents, teachers, residents and bus drivers asked for more, not less, in the 1994-1995 budget proposal for Carroll County Schools at a public hearing last night at Northwest Middle School.

"You are addressing growth, but you are not addressing class size," said Cynthia Cummings, president of the Carroll County Education Association.

She urged the board to provide more planning time and ease crowding in middle schools, which she said are "bursting at the seams."

The school administration is requesting an 8.53 percent increase next year, for a total of $131 million. Of that, $74 million would come from the county, and the rest from state and federal sources.

They say Carroll expects 868 new students next fall, an increase of 3.82 percent over the current enrollment of 22,701.

Superintendent R. Edward Shilling said the budget already has been criticized by parents as too conservative, but "It's a matter of what the residents of Carroll County are willing to pay for."

About $6.6 million of the new money would go toward negotiated pay raises and increases in benefits for approximately 2,400 employees. Another 47 teachers will be needed next year just to handle growth, officials said.

Parent Patricia Rom of Finksburg complained of large kindergarten class sizes at Sandymount Elementary School.

"Kindergarten is one of the most important years in a child's life," she said. "We have always depended on volunteer parents to pick up the slack in our classrooms. But with more parents working, . . . we need additional staffing."

A Westminster grandmother, Suzanne Parrish, urged Mr. Shilling to find local money for a director of the external diploma program for adults.

"The external diploma program means so much to us, because without it, neither my husband nor I would have received our diplomas," Mrs. Parrish said.

"I was there [in June] when you and your husband and your family crossed that stage," Mr. Shilling said. "Something I will guarantee you is that program is not going to get lost."

Bus contractors Dianne Grote and Paul Rill complained that the 1.5 percent increase the schools built into the budget for them falls short of the 4 percent increase in the consumer price index, and they face higher expenses because of increases in operating costs.

About 75 people attended the hearing. Another hearing will be at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Piney Ridge Elementary School.

The board will adopt a budget, possibly with revisions, Feb. 24 at Friendship Valley Elementary School.

Parents and some children from Elmer Wolfe Elementary School came to protest the delay of their school's renovation.

Mr. Shilling explained that last night's hearing was on the operating budget, but the estimated $5 million cost of improving Elmer Wolfe is part of the capital budget. Hearings on the capital budget were last August for the fiscal year 1994-1995.

However, the parents took the opportunity last night to put their concerns on the record.

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