Proposed school budget up 6.72% Increase is above what commissioners say they'll approve

January 15, 1998|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

A gap of $2.6 million separates the budget Superintendent Brian L. Lockard proposed yesterday for Carroll schools for 1998-1999 and the bottom line County Commissioners have said they'll approve.

Lockard unveiled his most ambitious budget request at the school board's meeting yesterday. He said the $159 million proposal only begins to address the needs of a rapidly growing system. County schools are expecting an additional 596 students in the fall; the current school year's enrollment is 25,580.

It was Lockard's budget to present, but it will be someone else's to carry out -- Lockard also announced he will retire at the end of this school year.

The request Lockard gave the school board yesterday asks for a 6.72 percent increase over this year's budget of $149 million.

Budget totals include county, state and a small percentage of federal dollars. The state and federal money is predetermined; the only variable is how much the County Commissioners will approve by spring.

Counties have had to shoulder a larger percentage of school funding in the past seven years. The state's contribution for special education, transportation and employer contributions to Social Security has shrunk.

In August, the commissioners said they would provide only $3,246,768 more than the schools are getting this year from the ** county.

A few weeks ago, Lockard warned them that his conscience required him to present a budget beyond that. Yesterday, he gave a precise figure: He wants $5,855,849 more than the current year -- a difference of $2.6 million from the commissioners' plan.

The rest of the overall budget increase is in the state and federal funding, which is not subject to action by the County Commissioners.

More teachers

Lockard and his budget director, Walter Brilhart, itemized where the $2.6 million would go. Major expenses include:

$972,000 for staff for the new Linton Springs Elementary School and the expanded Francis Scott Key High and Elmer Wolfe Elementary schools, plus additional custodians and other staff for a new central office.

$707,015 for teachers to reduce class size in early grades, where crowding is most acute.

$331,660 for eight more special education teachers.

$179,231 for 11 special education assistants.

$189,000 for additional technology education equipment.

$105,424 for textbook replacements.

It will be up to the school board to decide whether to forward Lockard's request to the commissioners after public hearings or to modify it.

The first hearing is at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at Northwest Middle School; another is at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at Oklahoma Road Middle School. The board will adopt a budget at a meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 at Westminster High School.

Other improvements

Lockard said there are other improvements he would have liked to include.

"It does simply address what I believe we should ask for," he said. "This does not include improvements for gifted-and-talented programs. It does not address middle-school class size. It doesn't address advanced-placement classes."

But for Ralph Blevins, president of the Carroll County Education Association, the budget is more like what he wanted last year. At that time, he urged Lockard and the school board to propose a budget that reflected what schools needed, not just what they thought the County Commissioners would provide.

"This is a ray of hope that maybe we'll start looking at the needs of people before we break them," Blevins said.

"We have got a lot of people in the schools who had the feeling that nothing was going to be done to address the stresses."

The stresses include increasing class sizes to as high as 40 students in the high schools and many classes with more than 30 pupils in middle and elementary schools.

Carroll had the second-worst student-teacher ratio in the state for the 1996-1997 school year, officials said.

Pub Date: 1/15/98

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