Board adopts $149 million school budget 49 teachers added for 1997-'98 to combat crowding, growth

695 new pupils expected

Bulk of new positions would keep pace, not reduce class size

February 25, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Heeding parents who warn that class sizes are increasing, the Carroll County Board of Education adopted a $149 million budget proposal last night that would fund about 49 new teaching positions in the 1997-1998 school year.

But most of those teachers would be used to keep pace with an expected 695 new students next year and only about eight to reduce class size.

"We need to address class size across the system," said board President C. Scott Stone.

School Superintendent Brian Lockard's original budget proposal in January provided for 45 new teaching positions, four of them to reduce class size and the rest to accommodate growth. Since then, he was able to reallocate $142,000 that school board members could allocate last night as they wished.

Although the board was interested in reducing class size, board member Carolyn L. Scott hoped to use some of that money to address a long-standing problem -- the need for at least a part-time assistant principal in smaller elementary schools.

"Three more teachers across this entire system is not going to make the difference that three assistant principals will make at -- these three schools," Scott said.

Elmer Wolfe and Charles Carroll elementaries are the only ones that have no assistant principal. Next year, Runnymede Elementary's low enrollment will cause it to lose its assistant principal.

Elmer Wolfe staff and parents attended last night's meeting and urged the board to add the positions.

Scott and Ann M. Ballard tried, but after about half an hour of trying to make the numbers work and hearing of the complications it could cause, only Scott still supported doing it.

The budget proposal, which now goes to the County Commissioners for approval, represents a total 6.35 percent increase over the current budget.

Small gathering

Last night's meeting at Westminster High School drew 60 people, unlike a year ago when all three budget hearings drew crowds of about 300 to protest threatened cuts to music and gifted-student programs. The cuts were averted when school system employees agreed to a salary freeze.

At the first budget hearing this year, in January, only two school employees spoke, asking the superintendent to propose a budget more relevant to the school system's needs than to the county's bottom-line figure.

$400,000 over minimum

Lockard said the county budget staff indicated in a letter that the schools could have just $400,000 over the minimum budget allowed by law, which came to $149 million.

The second budget hearing earlier this month drew a few parents who argued for more teachers to reduce class sizes.

The budget proposal approved last night also includes:

More than $658,000 to hire special education staff and cover transportation costs for students with special needs.

The equivalent of 4 1/2 custodial positions to maintain new schools and additions being built, at a cost of $118,936.

Four more general maintenance workers, at a cost of $100,078,

Twelve new bus contracts, to keep up with enrollment, at a cost of $591,494.

Pub Date: 2/25/97

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