Students, parents and teachers testify at school budget hearing

February 17, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Parents appealed for computer education, more reading instructors, air conditioning and renovations in schools last night at the second of two budget hearings on the school superintendent's $414 million operating budget for next year.

But the most eloquent testimony at the hearing in Glen Burnie High's auditorium came from students.

Nicholas Anthony, a fifth-grader at Bodkin Elementary, lobbied the eight school members for a computer instructor.

"By the time we graduate," he said, "our world will revolve around computers. Our PTA has given us a very good lab. Please help us use it the way it was intended."

Nicholas was among more than 50 people who spoke at the hearing -- about a fifth of those attending.

Leigh Bonner, a fourth-grader at Benfield Elementary, was the second student to testify. She noted that the 31-year-old school had never been renovated, and her school's PTA also had purchased computers.

"But we have problems that can't be solved by selling candy and wrapping paper," Leigh said. "Our media center is crowded. It's hard to work when you're crammed into a corner."

She also urged the board to consider paying for air conditioning at Benfield, noting that in late spring the students bring water bottles to class to keep cool.

Air conditioning also was on the mind of Cathy Guay, president of the Glendale Elementary PTA. "Comparing test results of students who sit in 90- to 95-degree heat to those who sit in air-conditioned comfort is like comparing apples to oranges. It does not seem like much, but to the kids it is very important and can influence testing performance," she said.

She also urged the board to hire more school psychologists, noting that the office responsible for counseling services had requested that seven be hired. But the budget proposed by Interim Superintendent Carol S. Parham provided no money for additional psychologists.

Mrs. Guay said the psychologist assigned to Glendale is responsible for 3,300 students at that school plus Woodside Elementary, Marley Middle and Glen Burn High. The recommended ratio is one psychologist to a thousand students, she said.

Cheryl Sullivan urged the board to consider hiring social workers to assist students with emotional problems. "They could work with the child, the teachers and the family, and could address issues outside of school that could be affecting the student's performance," she said.

Ginny Barrett, a parent speaking for the Chesapeake cluster schools in Pasadena, chastised the board for not providing enough information about the "big picture" for parents to understand the budget proposal.

"It's easy to come to hearings and tick off the wants and needs, but not to understand where the money comes from. We want to be able to make knowledgeable suggestions."

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