Budget plan seeks to add 49 teachers $427.5 million sought by superintendent to run schools

Board to meet Tuesday

Placing students who are disruptive is on the agenda

January 19, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Superintendent Carol S. Parham will ask for $427.5 million to operate Anne Arundel schools next year, which includes adding 49 teachers and creating a high school for disruptive students.

The request is an increase of 2.4 percent, or $10.1 million, over the current budget of $417.4 million, according to the summary of proposed expenditures. The full budget plan will be made public at Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. school board meeting.

"It looks pretty good," said school board President Joseph H. Foster. "There has been an extremely strong emphasis on cost control where possible."

The proposal, about $10 million less than Dr. Parham had originally sought for the current school year, sticks to several pledges she has made -- to add teachers, to be forceful on discipline, to beef up instruction and technology.

Among key requests are:

* $1.4 million to hire 45 teachers to keep up with the growing student population, plus $128,000 for four teachers designated for Meade and North County schools. This year, 71,824 students attend county public school. Planners expect 73,516 students next year.

* $400,000 for a principal, 10 teachers, a pupil-personnel worker, a secretary and custodian for a high school that would accept students who are one step away from expulsion. Tentative plans call for opening such a facility in a year.

* $1.4 million for the Advanced School Automation Project, designed to provide computer labs in every school and to link computers in the entire system. Dr. Parham sought $7 million last year to create the system, but the County Council and Executive John G. Gary trimmed that back to a $750,000 demonstration project when school officials could not produce a detailed plan.

* An overall increase of $2.7 million to $217.8 million for instruction -- from teacher salaries to summer camp scholarships. That includes $6.3 million for instructional materials an increase of $300,000 over current funding -- and $1.5 million for library books -- down nearly $200,000.

Dr. Parham's budget would barely keep pace with inflation, which economists are forecasting at just under 3 percent for 1996. The consumer price index for the Baltimore metropolitan area rose 1.7 percent for the 12 months that ended in November.

The spending summary does not show revenue sources, and that has become a concern for educators around the state, as Congress has threatened cutbacks.

"It's all predicated on certain revenues coming from the [federal government], the state and the county. And we don't know what the feds are doing. And we won't know for three or four weeks what the governor's budget means," said Gregory V. Nourse, director of financial services.

"It is a reasonable budget," board member Thomas R. Twombly said. However, he said he wanted to see contingency financing plans that would include fees for extracurricular activities and busing, should there be a revenue shortfall.

School officials expect to cover an estimated $2.4 million shortfall this fiscal year using reserve funds and other balances. They have told the County Council they do not expect to seek additional appropriations.

"The only kink in this is that we are trying to figure out how much we spent on snow removal. We won't know for about two weeks," Mr. Nourse said. Federal disaster payments would cover 75 percent.

Dr. Parham is recommending that students attend school on Presidents' Day -- Monday, Feb. 19 -- and one spring break day -- Thursday, April 4 -- to make up for two days lost to snow. The other option would be to extend the school year two days, to June 13. The superintendent noted that if school closes again because of weather, those days would probably be added in June.

The board also will have to vote on whether to alleviate crowding at George Fox Middle School by moving some students to Chesapeake Bay Middle School for grades six through eight. Dr. Parham suggested naming a community committee to make recommendations to her by November, with changes made the following school year.

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