The Anne Arundel County school board last night approved the transfer of $4.2 million within its operating budget.
The transaction, called a fourth-quarter transfer, must be approved by the County Council.
"We are not asking the county government for any money," said James Goodwyn, lead budget analyst for the school system. He said $3.5 million of the transfer comes from additional grant money.
"The transfer and the $700,000 appropriation are all covered by our revenue," Mr. Goodwyn said. If the transaction is approved by the council, the school board's operating budget will officially be raised from $409 million to $413 million.
The decision on the budget came at the end of an evening dominated by the topic of inclusion, a program that places moderately to severely disabled students in traditional classrooms.
James Walsh, coordinator of special education, told the board that more than 56 of the county's 117 schools "include" 300 moderately to severely disabled students in traditional classrooms.
Dr. Walsh said the county also teaches 8,000 mildly disabled students in traditional classrooms.
Some parents and teachers said they value the inclusion program.
Jane Browning, mother of a 12-year-old special education student at Folger McKinsey Elementary School, told the board, "My son knows how to line up. He knows how to wait his turn. He knows to not call out in class. He has learned this from his classmates."
Classmates of her son, Paul, also have learned from the experience, she said.
"They watch him practice courage and perseverance to master the classroom curriculum as it has been altered for him," Mrs. Browning said.
"So he's teaching them about his abilities. When it comes time, he will have a job in the community because he will have trained his peers to respect his abilities."
Peg Andrews, a teacher at Arnold Elementary School, told the board she has one special education student in her class. She said her students have learned to work with the student.
"They allow him to run all the way around the bases when he kicks the kickball, no matter where it goes. They figured out a way to make the game equal for everyone," she said.
Other teachers testified that they need more instruction on how to teach students with special needs and more time to plan their special lessons.
Other concerns were more practical.
"We need ramps," said a teacher from Hilltop Elementary School. "We should not be lifting a child in a wheelchair up steps. If we had a fire, how long would it take me to get her out of the school? And I have 28 other children to get out as well."