Board OKs schools budget

February 23, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

The Baltimore County school board approved a $572 million operating budget early today, adding $340,000 for additional teaching positions to Superintendent Stuart Berger's spending plan for the 1994-95 school year.

By unanimous vote, the board adopted the proposed budget, which asks for $58.2 million more than the school system's current budget -- an 11.3 percent increase. About $46 million of that would be county money.

The schools are receiving about 44 percent of the county budget this year, but their request represents 47 percent of next year's anticipated budget.

Board members said the schools need a greater percentage of the county's money because of their steadily growing enrollments. The county schools have more than 96,000 students this year and expect nearly 100,000 next year.

Although board members made strong arguments for the additional money, they are unlikely to get all of it. The County Council already has adopted a spending affordability limit of 4.8 percent, which means that the county's entire budget can grow by only $41.1 million.

County Executive Roger B. Hayden, who has the next shot at the proposed school budget, said yesterday that the board's plan was "obviously impractical" and that he would not comment further until he had seen the board's finished budget. He is to act on the proposal and send it to the County Council by April 15. Last year, Mr. Hayden cut about $20 million from the board's request, including all salary increases.

The proposed budget approved last night includes $28 million for salary increases for all employees. Teachers and administrators would receive their raises in two steps: a flat $1,300 increase and then a 3 percent raise on top of that. Other school employees, such as teachers' aides, bus drivers and clerical workers, would receive a raise of about 6 percent.

School system employees, like other county workers, have not had pay raises for three years. Mr. Hayden has indicated he would increase county salaries next year.

The proposed school budget includes about $7 million for 263 new teaching positions -- 10 of them added when the board tacked $340,000 onto the Berger proposal last night; $5.2 million to help 50 schools in the poorest areas of the county; nearly $5 million in health insurance increases; $3 million for equipping new schools and new and expanding magnet programs; and $1 million for an upgraded record-keeping system that has been cut from previous budgets.

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