School reform costs need new estimate Year-round bTC program affected by 2 projects

November 09, 1995|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

The Howard County school system is refiguring the costs of year-round education and should have a new estimate ready by the time the school board makes its decision in April, associate superintendent Maurice Kalin said yesterday.

The costs need to be recalculated because the initial report included savings based on the assumption that two new elementary schools would not be built. However, construction of those two schools will have begun by the time the school board makes its decision.

The 90-member committee that wrote the report was aware construction would begin on the two new elementary schools in the spring, Dr. Kalin said. But that information was not included in the written report because estimates were intended to reflect costs if year-round education were adopted this fall.

"If the board had decided to do [year-round education] the week that [the report] was presented, then the cost estimate would be accurate," Dr. Kalin said. "The board deferred it until the spring, which means that the costs will not be accurate and will need to be redone."

School board Chairwoman Susan Cook said the board's intention all along had been to decide on year-round education in the spring rather than this fall.

But she said she had expected that the cost study would need to be updated for the April decision anyway -- before she even learned of savings lost from the two new schools that will be built.

The report presented to the board two weeks ago had concluded that year-round education could save $15.7 million, primarily through reduced construction expenses.

But the school board's decision not to decide on year-round education until April means that construction already will have started on two of those schools, Dr. Kalin said.

Neither the board nor school officials have expressed any intention to delay the start of construction, and that will change the costs of Howard's proposed customized plan, Dr. Kalin said.

Dr. Kalin said he could not estimate whether the proposal would still produce savings. But, he added, he would have a new cost analysis by the time the board makes its decision.

The report had concluded that not building those two new schools would save about $49 million over 20 years -- more than offsetting the additional operating costs incurred by keeping schools open year-round. But Dr. Kalin said other costs would decline if the two new schools are built, meaning that the plan could still save money.

Howard's year-round education report proposed stretching the 180 days of student instruction from the traditional 10-month calendar to one of 12 months.

The new schedule would divide the calendar into three 12-week instructional sessions and three vacations of three weeks each, with abbreviated winter and summer vacations.

The board plans to hold a public hearing on the report April 2 and make a decision April 25.

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