Baltimore Co. to get more school aid Ruppersberger's support for city deal pays off

April 11, 1997|By Marego Athans | Marego Athans,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's support for the $254 million city schools deal has paid off in $31.8 million in additional state aid to help run the schools over the next five years -- the second-largest increase in all of Maryland's suburbs, behind Prince George's County.

The schools plan, approved by the General Assembly this week with the lobbying help of Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, means a $6.3 million boost next year in the county school system's proposed $631 million operating budget for 1997-1998.

The additional money -- which comes on top of a $16.3 million increase already promised to the county -- is aimed largely at programs to help poor children and repair aging buildings.

The money is in addition to $25 million in new construction funds to ease crowding in fast-growing areas.

Among the county improvements expected from the city schools package are: $1.8 million in repairs to aging buildings; $2.4 million in grants to high-poverty, low-performing schools; and $1.9 million in additional money for an already expanding teacher mentoring program.

The plan also includes $210,000 to add prekindergarten programs at three schools and $45,000 for students who speak limited English.

Ruppersberger said yesterday that the $31.8 million was especially significant because it is in the form of operating money.

"It's money we needed desperately, and money we didn't think we'd get," Ruppersberger said.

As part of a city-state deal to restructure Baltimore's school system, the General Assembly agreed to give the state's 23 counties a total of $167 million more in education aid over five years.

The spending plan, submitted by Gov. Parris N. Glendening in a supplemental budget, puts more money into various categories based on criteria such as the number of poor children and the square footage of buildings constructed before 1960.

Three counties -- Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore -- got educational grants such as Baltimore County's teacher mentoring grant.

"These increased funds demonstrate a real commitment to education in Baltimore County," Anthony G. Marchione, the county superintendent, said yesterday.

Prince George's and Montgomery counties, whose delegations withheld support for the city package while demanding more money for their own schools, will receive $40.4 million and $31.6 million increases, respectively, over the next five years.

Baltimore County school officials said they had not decided which schools would benefit from the additional money, but the plan will follow these lines:

$2.4 million in poverty grants will be distributed among the 25 to 30 schools with the most worrisome statistics in three categories: children reading below grade level, poor performance on the standardized CTBS test and poor performance in the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program. Marchione said the money would pay for additional teachers to work as tutors.

The mentoring program, now in 22 schools, will be expanded more than threefold. A combination of local and state money will increase the program's budget to $3.4 million from $1 million. The idea is to support teachers in schools in poor areas, where the system tends to cluster inexperienced teachers, resulting in high turnover and contributing to lagging achievement.

$1.8 million will be added to the increase of $562,828 budgeted for school repairs in the coming year. The current year's repair budget is $7.2 million.

Pub Date: 4/11/97

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