Hickey outlines proposed cuts in school budget

April 29, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey yesterday unveiled a list of cuts he would make if the County Council approves the executive's recommendation to slash the school system's proposed $221.8 million operating budget by $4.3 million next fiscal year.

Among the major initiatives that would be eliminated are plans to buy supplies and textbooks that would have made up for previous cutbacks, to hire extra teachers and to buy computers and other equipment for older schools.

Dr. Hickey's list comes about two weeks after County Executive Charles I. Ecker recommended the $4.3 million reduction in the school system's proposed operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

"I know we will be criticized for putting out a threat," Dr. Hickey said. "It may be a threat, but it also [may become] a reality."

School board members responded to his list of possible cuts with dismay.

"This is depressing," said board Vice Chairwoman Susan Cook. She pointed out that the $4.3 million proposed cut would be in addition to the $8 million the county already has required the school system to pay each year in Social Security taxes for school employees.

School board Chairman Dana Hanna said the five-member board had "put together a rather workable budget . . . in response to the fiscal constraints faced in the community."

If forced to make the cuts outlined by Dr. Hickey, the school system first would eliminate a $1.6 million initiative called "technology equity." That program is intended to give older schools more computers, software and other equipment.

The school system also would eliminate $500,000 earmarked to increase the number of "teacher pool" positions. Those positions are used to fill vacancies at the beginning of the school year at schools with unexpected enrollment increases, and to help in integrating special education students into general classrooms. The school system had planned to increase the number of teachers in that pool to 40.5, an increase of 18.

Mr. Ecker cut the school system budget last year by $4.4 million.

He restored $1.4 million of that at the beginning of this school year because income tax revenue was 9 percent higher than anticipated.

The county council is scheduled to approve the final budget in late May when it will decide whether or not to approve Mr. Ecker's proposed cuts. The school board then decides how to allot its funding and adopts a final budget June 1.

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