Grasmick warns of school aid cuts Programs for poor, teachers among those at risk in 'worst case'

October 27, 1995|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,SUN STAFF

Nine thousand students from some of Maryland's poorest homes would be denied needed extra instruction if proposed cuts in federal education aid become law, state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said yesterday.

Outlining the potential effects of spending bills in Congress, Dr. Grasmick said a program that helps 21,000 Maryland teachers a year hone their skills also could be eliminated -- as could programs designed to keep schools free of violence and drugs, to educate illiterate adults, and to help schools meet new performance standards.

She detailed the proposed legislation before a work group of Maryland officials, headed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, which has been meeting in public each week to discuss the possible impact of the coming federal cuts.

Two weeks ago, the group was briefed on the expected loss of federal welfare funds. Last week, the topic was cuts in medical assistance for the poor. This week, it was possible reductions to public schools, colleges and universities.

In almost every case, Mr. Glendening has made clear that the state cannot afford to make up for the lost federal money and has no intention of trying. "This is not about a small loss this year," the governor said. "This is about a huge, multiyear change."

The possible cuts outlined by Dr. Grasmick yesterday were based on "worst-case" scenarios. State officials concede that compromise legislation is not likely to be quite as severe.

The Democratic governor, however, clearly intends to highlight the potential impact and to put the blame on the Republican-led Congress.

Mr. Glendening said his own budget proposal to the legislature will include a long anticipated, formula-driven increase of $80 million in state aid for education. But Dr. Grasmick said that money will be consumed quickly by the costs of exploding student enrollment and inflation.

The governor has consistently called improvements to education one of his top priorities, but said yesterday he feels frustrated that any increases in state spending that he proposes may be offset by federal reductions.

Dr. Grasmick estimated that Maryland could lose as much as $33 million in federal school funds, including nearly $9 million in Baltimore and $2.2 million in Baltimore County.

"There is no potential to be able to compensate for these losses," she said.

The governor said that in addition to the $80 million increase in "APEX" funds -- the major education funding formula -- he intends to put $10 million in his budget to offer incentives for schools that perform well. He also vowed to include $120 million for school construction and renovation.

Patricia S. Florestano, the state's secretary of higher education, said pending congressional proposals could keep nearly 700 needy Maryland college students from receiving scholarships.

Another cut, she said, would end a program that helps about 500 troubled middle-school students stay in school. Student loan programs also would be sharply reduced.

"Lots of people are concerned about [cuts in] Medicare and welfare, but the cuts in student loans affect the middle class," Mr. Glendening said.

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