2 city legislators ask for more school aid Appeal to governor seeks $10.6 million for programs, training

February 07, 1996|By Jean Thompson | Jean Thompson,SUN STAFF

Two senior Baltimore legislators appealed to Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday to spend $10.6 million next year on overhauls of underachieving schools ordered by the state.

The proposal, drafted by Sen. Clarence W. Blount and Del. Howard P. Rawlings, seeks more than $9 million to seed new programs, buy equipment and train staff at the 37 schools designated last month for reforms in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel and Somerset counties. The Democratic legislators also seek $1.5 million in grants for the five Baltimore schools already operating under state supervision.

With the recent additions to the state's reform list, 42 schools must improve or risk takeover. Because 40 schools are in Baltimore, affecting more than 25,000 children, "We can only conclude that there is a serious educational crisis in Baltimore City," the legislators wrote in a letter to the governor last night.

Last year, the legislators sought and won $1.5 million in grants in the governor's supplemental budget for the first five schools ordered to improve, all in Baltimore.

"The appropriation from the governor last year has had a major impact on the five schools," Mr. Rawlings, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said yesterday. "These resources are needed to help implement their school-improvement plans."

Many of the schools would receive $90,000 plus a grant of $200 per pupil if the proposal were accepted by Mr. Glendening. Other schools would get less, based on the state's determination of their needs.

With the state school board monitoring its efforts, each designated school must develop a plan and budget for improving student achievement and attendance.

Some schools used the grants last year to buy computers and software, said Ronald A. Peiffer, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

Schools with documented attendance problems hired monitors and purchased programmable telephone devices that let officials quickly notify parents when students are truant. Some hired consultants to train staff, Mr. Peiffer said.

About $700,000 is designated in the request for the state Department of Education, to provide technical support to the schools as they change. Last year, the department received about $130,000.

City and state officials are embroiled in a legal fight over school financing, with Baltimore seeking a substantial increase and Maryland demanding a restructuring of city school management.

City school officials have complained bitterly about the state's reform program, calling it an unfunded mandate and fighting it in court. As they did a year ago, some threatened to resist the newly ordered changes until the state contributed money.

Last year, the school system held out until Senator Blount and Delegate Rawlings consulted state Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and pressed the governor for aid.

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