School board agonizes over cuts It rejects budget trims that would most affect students in classroom

June 19, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

In an agonizing meeting that continued into the early hours of the morning yesterday, the Anne Arundel school board managed to make only about half the $9 million in cuts needed to meet the budget the County Council approved for it.

The eight-member board had no trouble agreeing to hiring freezes for custodians and central office workers, and eliminating and reducing overtime pay, but voted against making major cuts that would most directly affect students in the classroom.

Board members voted against a $1 million cut for instruction materials such as textbooks, against eliminating a $950,000 program for gifted and talented students, and getting rid of a $1.9 million middle school home economics program.

They also refused to cut a $35,000 French immersion program at Crofton Woods Elementary or a $46,000 AVID program designed to inspire college-prep performances from mediocre students.

A $205,250 summer reading program for elementary school students stays. So does $1 million worth of maintenance work.

"We are really trying to spare the instructional side of it," said board member Vaughn Brown after the meeting. "Some of these cuts, we just couldn't bear to make."

The budget portion of the Wednesday meeting began at 5: 30 p.m. and continued until 1: 40 a.m. yesterday. And while the board voted on all of Superintendent Carol S. Parham's 43

suggested cuts, it will met again June 29 at 9 a.m. to consider additional trims. With $5.8 million in cuts picked out, the board still has $3.2 million to cut by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

"Nothing is safe at this point," Brown said. "We will have to go through this again and possibly reconsider some of the things that we did not cut."

Parham gave the board a list of $7 million in new ideas for budget adjustments.

"The board may have to go back and revisit some of the things that they rejected," Parham said yesterday.

The board asked the school's budget office to compile figures on how much it would save by consolidating Annapolis and Bates middle schools, both of which are under capacity.

Other possible savings could could come through combining the Center for Applied Technology North in Severn with the Center for Applied Technology South in Edgewater.

Although the council gave the board $14 million more than last year, school officials say they are still $9 million short of meeting basic employee expenses such as health and life insurance costs, retirement benefits and money to pay employees for an extra pay period in the calendar year.

And, the $9 million does not include a 3 percent cost-of-living raise that was negotiated by the board and teachers union.

Other votes included:

17 nonclassroom teaching slots will be eliminated and those teachers reassigned to classrooms according to seniority.

Students will be charged about $100 to participate in the Anti-Tobacco Use Program, the Alternative to Drugs Program and the Responsible Actions Program.

Fees for evening high school and secondary summer school will increase an undetermined amount from $150 per class.

Ticket prices for athletic events will increase from $3 to $4.

$500,000 will be cut from the library budget that includes books, tapes, software programs, filmstrips, films and magazines.

A $35- or $40-a-day fee will be charged for students attending Arlington Echo Outdoor Education center in Millersville.

Pub Date: 6/19/98

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