No cuts this year for top city high schools School for the Arts, City College receive no promises for next year

March 25, 1998|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Stephen Henderson contributed to this article.

An article in yesterday's editions incorrectly quoted Tyson Tildon, president of the Baltimore school board, on the board's plans for possible cuts in the budgets of City College and the School for the Arts.

In fact, Tildon said there are no plans to cut $2.2 million from the budgets of those two schools in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The Sun regrets the errors.

The president of the Baltimore school board denied last night that it had any plans to cut $2.2 million this year from the budgets of two of the city's most prestigious high schools to balance its books.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

But board members said they could make no promises about next year.

Students, parents, teachers and alumni packed a school board meeting last night, where board President Tyson Tildon pledged continued support for City College and the School for the Arts.

"The students of Baltimore deserve the same quality of education as children in the surrounding counties," Tildon said.

Also last night, the board voted to extend the contract of interim schools chief Robert E. Schiller another 30 days to April 30.

With budget cuts looming, school supporters last week began an intensive campaign to try to guarantee that City College and the School for the Arts will not suffer if cuts are necessary next year.

They wrote hundreds of letters, went to Annapolis on Monday night for a "fact-finding" trip and protested at last night's board meeting.

"We believe every child in the Baltimore City public schools could fly like an eagle if you gave them the equipment, the instruction, the supplies and the support that they need," said Yvonne Davis-Robinson, the mother of an 11th-grader and president of the Parent Teacher Student Organization at City College.

Last night, supporters of the two high schools packed the board's hearing room and marched in front of school headquarters on North Avenue, carrying signs that urged passing motorists to "Honk If You Support Education."

The protests were sparked by rumors last week that City College would be cut $1.8 million and the School for the Arts -- which teaches dance, theater, music and art -- $400,000, or nearly 15 percent of its budget.

The rumors were not denied by the board or school administration and were fueled by increasing concerns about a $11 million deficit for this year and anticipated budget problems next year.

The rumors apparently began after the board considered cutting $2 million from the budgets of individual schools to help balance this school year's budget.

But the facts became twisted so that the City College community began to believe that the cuts were proposed for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The school board did defer from this year until next year a $1 million allocation for City College, with the support of Principal Joseph Wilson. That action will help balance this year's overall education budget.

The board appears unlikely to get money from the state and city to balance its books this year, and will probably be forced to make deep cuts in its proposed budget for next year.

The cuts being considered for next year's budget have not been made public, but board member C. William Struever said the panel hopes to make most of the reductions in management rather than in the schools. He said the board has made no decisions for next year and added, "There are no promises we can make."

But he said it "is premature for people to be up in arms about any potential cuts."

Schiller was scheduled to leave April 1. But the search for a permanent chief executive officer continues.

Board members say they have "several promising prospects."

The board has until April 15 to find a CEO, but a General Assembly bill would extend the deadline.

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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