Schools chief proposes austere budget for '96-'97 Class size likely to grow

staff may have to forgo raise

January 12, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Carroll schools Superintendent Brian Lockard presented an austere spending plan yesterday that will cut deeply into instructional programs and may require teachers and staff to forgo a 3 percent pay raise that was to take effect in fiscal 1997.

If necessary, Dr. Lockard told the county school board, he will offer a second list of proposed cuts to instructional programs Jan. 23 at the first public hearing on the proposed 1996-1997 budget.

"I'm telling you right up front, the class sizes will inch up a little bit," Dr. Lockard said.

"This is the first time we really had to go in and reduce services and specific programs," he said.

The budget proposed for next year is $143,449,246, up 6.74 percent ($9 million) from the current year, and is about $3.5 million more than the County Commissioners have told the school system to expect.

The major expenses are 77 new positions, most of which are to accommodate an expected 902 new students and the opening of Oklahoma Road Middle School.

About nine more regular and three more special education bus routes also will be needed to accommodate the increase in students, at a cost of $907,137.

Ralph Blevins, president of the teachers' union, said the prospect of cutting the second part of a two-year negotiated pay increase is not a surprise to school system employees.

"We've understood it's a possibility all along," Mr. Blevins said. "At least they started with a realistic budget. They didn't just cave in."

Salary agreements with the county's school employee unions are subject to funding by the county, and this would not be the first time the school system has had to ask employees to give up raises, Dr. Lockard said. Employees received a 3 percent raise last year and were to get another 3 percent July 1.

Among other reductions, school administrators propose cutting $814,344 in existing programs, including:

* Eliminating the middle school computer program.

* Contracting fewer music guests and outside judges for contests.

* Freezing all hiring. If a teacher should leave at the beginning of the year, the schools could hire a long-term substitute and save on salary and benefits.

* Reducing offerings for Even Start and Families Learning Together programs, which help disadvantaged students and their parents.

In addition, the schools will not pick up what federal grants covered in elementary science programs that have garnered Carroll County national attention.

"We're going to lose them all," said Walter Brilhart, director of finance. Although local classroom activities in elementary and kindergarten hands-on science programs will continue, the schools will no longer have grants for staff members to disseminate the model to other school systems.

The loss could cut deeper: Carroll County has earned thousands of dollars over the past several years by selling the science curriculum guides to school systems all over the country. That money was used for general staff development for Carroll teachers in all subject areas.

"It's going to be a difficult year," said Joseph D. Mish Jr., who was elected president of the school board for this calendar year, taking the helm from Ann M. Ballard.

Makeup days

Carroll County students will have to attend school Jan. 22 and Feb. 19, two days previously planned for teacher professional days, the school board decided yesterday.

Counting today, Carroll schools have been closed eight days, only three of which were built into the school calendar.

Students and teachers also will lose a day of spring break April 4. Remaining snow days will be made up with extended hours in the spring, instead of adding days to the school calendar.

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