Teachers given raises as board trims budget

April 20, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

As the Anne Arundel County school board struggled to cut $15 million from its operating budget, an independent arbitrator decided that teachers should get 2 percent cost of living raises.

Arbitrator David Vaughn's report was delivered to the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County Tuesday afternoon, said union president John Kurpjuweit.

"Nearly every other jurisdiction has had their school boards offer at least some kind of cost of living raise," Mr. Kurpjuweit said. "Some of those jurisdictions are in bad financial shape, but they've recognized their employees need to have some way of coping with the escalating costs of living. Our board offered us zero."

Giving teachers and other employees the raises would cost the school system $5.4 million, school officials said.

That will be a tough call for a board that has been slicing positions and programs from its $432 million operating budget rather than let County Executive John G. Gary do it.

Budget revisions obtained by The Sun show that the school board plans to cut some of its most popular programs:

* The $130,420 drown-proofing program for children.

* The $262,310 adult basic education program, which teaches adults to read.

* $75,680 for summer school.

* $150,000 for activity buses for after-school programs.

The school board also decided to cut spending on the Advanced School Automation Project from $7 million to $750,000. The project would put computer labs in all schools and link them. The $750,000 will keep a pilot project running in four schools.

The board also suggested that the executive cut $17,850 from the budget for textbooks.

The board did not take a formal vote on cuts but has discussed them in public workshops and with Mr. Gary and the County Council. Some cuts were approved by straw votes.

The cuts would give the schools an $8 million increase over this year's $409 million budget.

"What does $8 million more buy us? Not much," said Ronald L. Beckett, associate superintendent for support services.

The board had calculated that it would need $11 million more next year just to keep pace with the rising cost of utilities, health insurance for employees and annual raises called "steps."

Kenneth Lawson, associate superintendent, said the drown-proofing program, which teaches children how to float in water, still might be offered if parents were willing to pay the full fee.

Despite the cut in textbooks, he said, the system will have 11 percent more money to spend.

Superintendent Carol S. Parham wanted to spend 30 percent more in response to parents' complaints that many textbooks were old, worn and outdated.

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