Vocational school target for council budget-cutting

May 11, 1995|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer

A vocational school to help wayward teen-agers is likely to be an early casualty of a County Council looking to trim County Executive John G. Gary's "bare-bones" spending plan.

The $700,000 Mr. Gary wants to use to renovate a county-owned building in Crownsville for a school designed to serve 40 trouble-making students may be better used to buy computer laboratories for eight county high schools, Councilman William C. Mulford II, an Annapolis Republican, said yesterday.

"It's a question of priorities," he said. "Do we want to continue to use these kinds of resources . . . on 40 students when we have so many needs for so many children who don't cause us any problems?"

Council members said they want to add money to Mr. Gary's proposed $417.1 million education budget and see the project as a likely source.

They said they are concerned because the administration does not know how it would pay salaries of teachers and counselors or other day-to-day expenses.

During a briefing on the proposed Career Center, Human Services Officer Ardath Cade said she expects the county to pay a private company $800,000 to $1.1 million a year to operate the center, which the executive hopes to open in November.

"How can we approve a capital expenditure without knowing what the continuing operating costs will be?" asked Councilman John Klocko, a Crofton Republican.

"I guess we are asking you to go forward partly on faith," Mrs. Cade said.

She also outlined potential sources of money, including the state and federal governments. "We believe the money already is out there," she said. "It's our job now to gather it and focus it on these children."

For example, the executive has asked Gov. Parris N. Glendening to pay $26,000 a year for each student at the Career Center, since it is designed to keep them out of state juvenile centers, Mrs. Cade said. She said the executive's request is roughly half what the state pays to keep delinquents at its correctional schools.

"We believe investing in these kids is a savings, not a waste of money," she said.

Mrs. Cade said the county has not received any formal commitments.

"I'm really leery of a project that is funded on a wing and a prayer," Mr. Mulford said.

Council President Diane Evans, an Arnold Republican, agreed. "I would feel better if the governor had at least written a letter," she said.

Councilman Bert Rice, an Odenton Republican, wondered if the program would deal strongly with teen-agers.

"The basic problem here is one of discipline," he said. "I don't think the program you are talking about will get us there."

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