School budget faces cuts, Neall aide says

February 25, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel | Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writers

The Anne Arundel County school board is seeking more than three times the amount of money to build new schools and repair old ones than the county is prepared to spend, a budget analyst for County Executive Robert R. Neall said yesterday.

The board adopted a $98.9 million capital budget late Wednesday, but Greg Nourse, the analyst, said Mr. Neall is considering allowing the system about $30 million, based on projected revenues.

He also said it is unlikely Mr. Neall will approve the $419 million operating budget the board adopted for the fiscal year that starts July 1. That figure would be more like $408 million to $412 million, he said.

"There may be some more negotiating, but it's not likely we'll get to the $419 [million] figure," Mr. Nourse said.

Jim Goodwyn, the schools' lead budget analyst, acknowledged yesterday there was "no way" the school board would see its wish list sail through the county executive's office and the County Council.

And Carol S. Parham, the new superintendent, conceded that the board's capital budget request is "a lot of money," but said that school officials are "on the horns of a dilemma."

"The community expects to see that we recognize what their concerns are, and the capital budget is one way to do that," she said. "The community also understands and recognizes the fiscal realities out there, but the bottom line is the needs are real.

"There isn't anything in the capital or operating budgets that isn't needed."

The capital budget figure Mr. Neall is considering would cover fewer than half the 35 projects the board requested. Most of those would be repairs, including $1.9 million to replace school roofs, $535,000 for ventilation improvements to Crofton Middle School and $680,000 for asbestos removal.

The school system still would be able spend $10 million for a new Park Elementary School; $6.9 million to convert the Andover High School building to a middle school; and $6.2 million for renovations to South Shore Elementary School.

Two projects that would fall by the wayside, however, are a $26 million addition to Broadneck Senior High School and $21 million to build a Meade-area middle school.

"The key question is going to come on what capital projects they are going to pursue this year. I think there is a question on the Broadneck High School project," said County Council Chairman C. Edward Middlebrooks. "There is only so much money to go around."

The school board was divided in its vote on the capital budget, with members Dorothy Chaney and Thomas E. Florestano opposed, but unanimous on the operating budget, which is about $3 million to $5 million higher than the figure Mr. Neall had asked the school system to present to him.

The budget, $20 million less than the total department heads had requested, includes money to cover a 4 percent raise for employees, $1.5 million to hire 51 more teachers and about $100,000 to cover custodians' overtime when community groups use schools.

The proposal also includes $503,000 to cover training as part of two agreements the Board of Education reached in December.

One agreement, with the U.S. Department of Education, is aimed at keeping race from being a factor in student discipline cases. The second agreement is to hire two special assistants to investigate suspected child-abuse cases and to create a position for a coordinator of safety and discipline.

The budget will be sent to Mr. Neall by Tuesday.

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