State school board approves $3 billion budget proposal

August 29, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

With plans to curb school violence and dropout rates and bolster salaries for some administrators, the Maryland State Board of Education has approved a $3 billion budget proposal and a still-incomplete wish list worth about $30 million more.

Though warned of a possible state budget deficit, the board, which met yesterday and Monday in Baltimore, expanded its 1997-1998 wish list by $3 million and four projects. It also authorized department officials to draw up two more items, including one that would raise the salary scale for about 300 employees at the central offices.

Previously included in the wish list were $2.8 million for the state's functional and performance-based testing programs; $3 million for programs to reduce violence and disruptive behavior among students; and $12 million to maintain and expand the prekindergarten program for 4-year-olds.

The so-called "unfunded augmentation project requests" also include $3 million for state-aided institutions, such as the Maryland School for the Blind, the Baltimore Zoo and the Pride of Baltimore.

Officials at department headquarters on West Baltimore Street are requesting about $700,000 to update computer capabilities and improve auditing services. Altogether, the proposals would create 10 positions in the 1,350-employee department.

Despite a 7 percent increase, the $3 billion fiscal 1998 budget does not create programs, but rather continues the level of services provided to school districts around the state. The budget is largely determined by funding formulas and provides little room for discretionary spending.

No price tag has been attached to the improved salary scale. The move is an attempt to put state department positions on a par with similar jobs in local school systems, said spokesman Ronald Peiffer.

The basic operating budget will be sent to the governor this week; the supplementary list, which eventually will total 37 items, is due by Sept. 15. Board approval begins the long budget process that winds into spring.

Pub Date: 8/29/96

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