Cuts OK'd in pay of city schools top staff Assembly ties funds from Md. to forfeiture

April 07, 1996|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,SUN STAFF

The Maryland General Assembly gave final approval yesterday to legislation that will require top Baltimore City school administrators to take a pay cut or lose $5.9 million for their school system.

By a 101-18 vote, the House of Delegates agreed to the controversial proposal the Senate approved Friday. The bill requires the signature of Gov. Parris N. Glendening to become law.

Mr. Glendening said yesterday he will not decide whether to sign or veto the legislation until the General Assembly's 90-day session ends tomorrow night. But supporters of the bill said his approval is expected.

Under the legislation, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey and about 15 administrators will have to forfeit 5 percent of their salaries this month and in May and June before the state will turn over the grant.

In turn, the $5.9 million would have to be spent on schools, instructional material and training for school improvement teams and staff.

City school funding has been a heated issue in the General Assembly this year -- particularly within Baltimore's delegation to Annapolis, in which there has been significant division.

The legislature first withheld the $5.9 million from the $420 million state payment to city schools last year on the condition it would be released only when certain management reforms took place. Most of those reforms were not implemented, and House Appropriations Chairman Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat, moved to have the funds taken away permanently.

But after legislators devised an incentive for school reform last week -- tying up $24 million in school aid in next year's budget until the city agrees to a "partnership" with the state sharing management responsibility for the ailing school system -- lawmakers decided to ease restrictions on the $5.9 million.

Dr. Amprey would lose the most money under the proposal, about $1,750 from his $140,000 annual salary. The school administrators were chosen because they were responsible for implementing the management reforms that a consultant recommended.

Mr. Rawlings said yesterday that the bill sends a message that "we do not want administrators who are not competent, who are not performing."

But Del. Clarence Davis, a fellow Baltimore Democrat, said the legislation would deter administrators from coming to work for city schools.

"This is not as bad as it was, but it sends a message we may live to regret," Mr. Davis said.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was unavailable for comment after the legislation was approved yesterday.

Pub Date: 4/07/96

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