Arundel school board hears ways to use money County superintendent doesn't recommend more gifted, talented money

August 20, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

School Superintendent Carol S. Parham did not recommend last night bringing back the middle school gifted and talented program.

But she did urge the school board to eliminate the unpopular music and athletic fees, reinstate middle school activity buses and turn on the heat or air conditioning during after-school functions.

Those were her suggestions to the board, which was considering what to do with the $5.8 million that the County Council took from the contingency fund and gave to the schools Monday night.

"These are the things that will affect a large number of students," Parham said. "We don't have the money to reinstate everything, and we have a commitment to the County Council to spend the money as we originally indicated."

Monday night, Parham told the council that the bulk of the money would be used to hire 60 teachers, and pay for equipment for the computer data system and the people to operate it.

Parham's recommendations to the board totaled $620,000, about $300,000 short of what it would take to restart the gifted and talented program that was part of $9 million in cuts made in June.

"We just don't have that kind of money right now," she said.

The superintendent's recommendations would mean deferring the hiring of two reading teachers, 10 computer lab teaching assistants, two custodians and four computer analysts; and eliminating an assistant painting foreman position.

The school board would review the need for the positions next year.

While many parents and students testified during board meetings, pleading with members to fund their favorite programs, as of late last night, the board had not made a decision.

Monday night, three months after the council voted to follow County Executive John G. Gary's recommendation and put $5.8 million in a fund out of the immediate reach of the school board, it voted 6-1 to turn over the money.

The vote signaled a truce in the county's fight to hold the board accountable for its spending in the face of state law that does not require such information sharing.

The board cut back programs in June, charging that Gary and the council had underfunded the schools, despite a $14 million increase in the schools budget.

School officials have maintained that they needed at least $23 million more than last year's budget to keep student services at the same level as last year.

Pub Date: 8/20/98

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