Schools budget adds bus fees for summers Superintendent's plan of $427 million includes charges

Recognizing 'realities'

Proposal revives one that was defeated last year by board

January 24, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County public schools would stop providing free busing to summer school under the $427.5 million budget proposed by Superintendent Carol S. Parham for the next fiscal year.

Instead, students in summer school and summer academy programs would have to either pay a transportation fee estimated at $120 to $150 or get to school on their own.

The school system would save $76,750 by dropping the summer busing, according to figures in the proposed budget. Dr. Parham presented her spending plan to the school board last night at Board of Education offices in Annapolis.

"We are the only school system in the entire state that does not have a fee for summer school transportation," said Gregory V. Nourse, the school system's finance chief. If not enough students pay for summer busing, it could be dropped entirely, he said.

The proposal is a revival of one that came up last year, said Kenneth Lawson, associate superintendent for instruction.

But it was turned down by the eight-member school board.

Last night the school board voted to remove two holidays from this year's school calendar to make up for time lost to snow days.

Students will have to attend classes on Presidents Day, Feb. 19, and on April 4.

But school will be dismissed two hours early April 4, instead of ending early April 3.

Dr. Parham's budget also presumes a cut of $1 million in federal aid that pays for instructional assistance in schools where students receive free or reduced-price lunches.

If so, as many as 50 such classroom assistants could be lost next year, Mr. Nourse said. Two schools lost what is known as Chapter 1 aid this year.

The budget includes no across-the-board pay raises for the second straight year, a development Dr. Parham said was due to financial constraints. "We felt that we couldn't prudently include this in our budget request," she said.

The board is in contract talks with four employee unions, so the pay raise situation may change. A 1 percent cost of living raise for 8,000 workers translates into $3 million, Mr. Nourse said.

Dr. Parham said her plan -- an increase of 2.4 percent over this year's spending -- is designed to recognize "some realities about the environment we are in."

Under the plan, the only major addition to the school system would be an alternative high school for students who are near to being expelled.

The projected start-up cost for the program, which would open in the middle of the school year and serve about 60 students, is $475,000.

In its first full year, the cost would go to $1.4 million, a sum that would be reflected in the 1998 fiscal year budget.

No site has been chosen. Tentative plans call for putting the school in an existing building.

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