Schools' budget request due today Superintendent's proposal for 1998-1999 is likely to approach $500 million

January 07, 1998|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham is to tell anyone who is interested today what price tag she thinks should be placed on operating the fifth-largest school system in the state.

She is to unveil her proposed budget for the 1998-1999 school year this morning in Annapolis -- but until then, details are being kept under wraps.

"I can't give you anything," said Gregory V. Nourse, acting assistant superintendent for finance and facilities construction.

Parham's proposal, which will likely come close to $500 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, has been given in summary form of about eight pages to the eight school board members, none of whom could be reached yesterday.

The budget is to be discussed at two public hearings this month. The eight-member board probably will make changes before it adopts a budget Feb. 18 and sends proposed operating and capital spending plans to County Executive John G. Gary and ultimately the County Council.

If last year's rounds were any indication, the budget adopted will be smaller than the one Parham proposes.

Last January, Parham proposed a $452.9 million budget that set aside nearly $7.5 million for 247 new positions, most of them for teachers; $1.8 million for school computers, and $130,000 for standardized testing in grades two, four and six.

The school board increased that to $454.8 million, but Gary sliced that figure by nearly $14 million, and the council cut a little more before adopting a budget of $440.5 million.

The school board also is set to vote on Parham's suggestions, presented last month, for shrinking the student population at two crowded high schools; North County in Ferndale and Arundel in Odenton.

She proposed to handle the problem at North County by hiring a full-time employee to find "jumpers" (students who live in other counties or in Baltimore but attend North County High) adding portable classrooms and allowing students who want to go to other county high schools to do so if they can provide transportation.

To reduce crowding at Arundel High, she recommended

permitting students to transfer to other high schools and sending students from Crofton Woods and Crofton Meadows -- who would now go to Arundel High School -- to South River High in Edgewater.

The board also is to learn that Meade Middle School, which was to open at the start of the second semester in a few weeks, will not be open until fall.

Ralph A. Luther, schools facilities chief, attributed the delay to the relatively warm winter during the 1996-1997 school year that kept the claylike soil muddy and hard for workers to handle.

The school is expected to be completed March 30, and students will move in at the beginning of the next school year. M. Jacques Smith, principal of Meade Middle, which is housed in a wing of MacArthur Middle School at Fort Meade, did not return telephone calls yesterday.

Pub Date: 1/07/98

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