Howard seeks state school funding boost County will ask $14 million more than it got this year

October 21, 1997|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Howard County will ask the state to fund at least $20 million in school construction for the fiscal year starting next July -- nearly $14 million more than the county received this year.

That figure came out of an afternoon meeting convened by Howard County Council members, state delegates and county school board members to reach a consensus on school funding priorities before the start of the legislative session in Annapolis.

Last year, the state funded $6.2 million for Howard school construction, addition and renovation projects -- a smaller-than-expected portion of the $28 million capital budget.

This year, school officials and politicians are determined to come home with more funds, they said.

"We did well in 14 of the last 15 years, but last year we really bTC took it in the neck," said Del. Robert H. Kittleman, the Republican leader in the House of Delegates. "This year in Annapolis should be the hardest fight we've ever had. We need to work together and get the bottom line as big as we can get it."

The group listed priorities for state funding: Fulton Elementary and Hollifield Station Elementary, two schools paid for by county funds that opened this year; a new elementary school in the southeastern portion of the county; and a renovation at Dunloggin Middle.

Money for part of a renovation at Jeffers Hill Elementary -- where some parents have expressed concern recently that the aging building may be contributing to health problems among students and staff members -- was listed as priority No. 6.

Projects that have been started or completed were paid for with so-called forward funding -- money from county coffers -- that would be reimbursed if the state funds come through, said Sydney L. Cousin, associate superintendent of finance and operations.

At issue is a nearly $37 million capital budget for county schools proposed last month by schools Superintendent Michael E. Hickey and approved by the school board Oct. 7.

The board will approve a final version of the capital request May 29 after state officials decide on the amount of school construction aid Howard will receive.

Pub Date: 10/21/97

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