Parham's Administrative Ax

January 18, 1995

An editorial yesterday incorrectly reported the increase in the schools' budget that Anne Arundel County Superintendent Carol Parham has proposed for fiscal year 1996. It is $28.7 million.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Anne Arundel County School Superintendent Carol S. Parham is calling the bluff of critics who say the school system doesn't need more money because it wastes what it has on administrative bureaucracy.

Dr. Parham is proposing to the Board of Education a $437.7 million operating budget that would eliminate 21 administrative positions and use the $1 million savings to buy textbooks and other instructional materials. She also plans to drop the school system's adult education program, leaving that work to the county's community college.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Dr. Parham gets an "A" for listening when politicians were lining up during last fall's election to criticize public schools for wasteful spending.

Some other school officials must have been playing hooky at the time. Howard Superintendent Michael E. Hickey, for example, recently proposed a 5.6 percent increase in that county's school budget and refuses to cut the $7 million his county spends on school administration.

In the past, Anne Arundel school officials also resisted administrative cuts, contending that administrative costs account for only 3 percent of the system's budget. Even though Anne Arundel spends less on administration that other jurisdictions, the astute Dr. Parham showed she understands the political game.

Don't be mistaken, she is not talking about cutting total school spending. She even wants to increase the operating budget by $51 million over the current spending plan. But Dr. Parham hopes that by eliminating 21 administrative positions and redirecting the savings into textbooks, she will be able to diffuse criticism from the new conservative County Council and persuade its members to give her money for projects she really wants, such as the controversial and expensive computer networking system known as the Advanced School Automation Project.

Cuts in the administrative positions will account for only a small percentage of overall school spending, but Dr. Parham is moving in the right direction with her first budget. If the school board goes along with the cuts, more authority would be restored to teachers and principals. And at least some money would be taken from the bureaucrats and given to the students.

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