Defiance of council in works

June 21, 1995|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer

The county Board of Education is poised to defy the County Council for a second year in a row by filling several jobs created to track child sexual abuse complaints within the school system.

When the board meets tonight, it is expected to shift money within its $417.1 million budget, recently approved by the council, to pay an attorney, an employee records specialist and a clerk.

Those jobs were recommended by independent investigator Alan I. Baron, who faulted the public school's handling of child abuse allegations against teachers. The council has deliberately cut the jobs from the school budget the past two years.

Several council members expressed frustration Monday night with the board's plan to fill those jobs even as they authorized the last-minute expenditure of $6.3 million to cover the board's deficit spending over the past year.

"They did it to us once, and now it looks like they will do it to us again," said Councilman George F. Bachman, a Linthicum Democrat.

Mr. Bachman said he was chagrined to learn recently that the board already expects a $1.5 million deficit -- including the positions Mr. Baron recommended -- in the fiscal year that will begin July 1.

The new positions "are not teachers," he said. "It would be nice to have them, but can we afford them? No. We need more teachers."

Councilman Bert L. Rice, an Odenton Republican, wondered "what control we have once we give them the funds."

And Councilman John J. Klocko III, a Crofton Republican, said he would "like to see [the board] be a little more accountable to the restrictions elected officials impose on the money they receive."

Conceding that the law allows the board to be semiautonomous, Mr. Klocko said, "It's a battle between strong-willed institutions. We want to exert fiscal restraint because that is what we were elected to do. It's not something you declare war over."

Mr. Bachman said he will watch carefully where the board gets the money to pay for the new positions. That money is likely to be cut from the board's budget in future years, he said.

School officials said they made a commitment to state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick to fill the positions after former Northeast High School teacher Ronald Price was convicted of having sex with students over two decades.

In other business, the council:

* Unanimously approved a last-minute appropriation for the current fiscal year, known as a fourth-quarter transfer, that allows County Executive John G. Gary to transfer $1.2 million from other surplus accounts to cover extra expenditures for police patrols, recreation equipment and senior care.

* Appointed Teresa Sutherland as the council's full-time auditor. She has been acting auditor since Joseph Novotny left the post in December.

* Confirmed Mr. Gary's appointment of Edward J. Donahue III and C. L. Brooke Perkins to the Pension Oversight Commission.

* Reconsidered and unanimously defeated a previously approved amendment to proposed regulations that would govern roadside vendors.

The bill, sponsored by Councilman James E. DeGrange, a Glen Burnie Democrat, would restrict those vendors, who hawk everything from crabs to velvet Elvises, to commercial areas. It also would require them to provide parking.

Another public hearing on the vendors bill is set for July 11.

* Recognized two Good Samaritans, including the 1995 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Linda S. Adamson, a teacher at Mayo Elementary School, was the 1994 Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year and is the second instructor from Anne Arundel to win the state honor.

Also, Judith Nowottnick, president of Waugh Chapel Elementary School, was lauded for receiving the 1995 J. C. Penney Golden Rule Volunteer Award for Anne Arundel County. Ms. Nowottnick raised $40,000 from the private sector to buy 32 personal computers and build a computer lab for her school.

"I know something about heroes, whether it is in combat or in public service, and we have one standing before us," Mr. Rice, a Vietnam veteran, said as he introduced Ms. Nowottnick.

* Approved the creation of a community special benefits district in the Birchwood subdivision. Homeowners in the waterfront community requested the district to allow them to pay additional taxes every year to finance mowing and other maintenance costs of a playground and pier.

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