Arundel schools seek 12% budget increase

Added funds would cover new teachers, computers

January 16, 1999|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Superintendent Carol S. Parham is proposing a $516 million education budget that contains money for 177 new teachers, cost-of-living raises for teachers and thousands of classroom computers.

The figure would be about a 12 percent increase over the current budget of $454 million and is the largest increase among budgets proposed by Baltimore-area school superintendents for the fiscal year that will begin July 1.

Parham's request last year for a similar increase touched off a feud with then-County Executive John G. Gary, whose battle with Parham and the school board became an issue in his unsuccessful re-election bid last year.

New County Executive Janet S. Owens has pledged to give more money to the schools and is asking the state for an unprecedented $50 million in construction funds to renovate aging schools this year, but Parham said that had nothing to do with her request.

"It's my job to present the needs and priorities of the school system regardless of who is county executive," she said yesterday. "It is a totally new working situation, but the needs are similar to the ones last year."

Owens couldn't comment on the issue yesterday because she had not seen the proposal, said her spokesman, Andrew C. Carpenter. Because of an administrative mix-up, reporters received a copy of the budget yesterday before Owens or school board members did.

Parham plans to unveil the details of her budget during a regularly scheduled board meeting Wednesday night in Annapolis.

The board will conduct workshops and public hearings before sending the budget to Owens and the County Council on Feb. 17. The council is to adopt a budget by the end of May.

The new teaching positions Parham is proposing include 24 instructors to handle expected enrollment increases, 34 to reduce the size of the average first-grade class from about 28 to 20 pupils, reading teachers for each of the 18 middle schools and five elementary school reading teachers.

Parham also is requesting $3.4 million for 4,000 classroom computers and an increase of 16 percent for school instruction supplies to pay for computer software and textbooks.

Under the proposal, teachers would get a 3 percent raise.

Until last year, Parham had asked for modest budget increases of 4 percent to 8 percent. After a long battle last year, Gary slashed the $501 million request she and the board made to $454 million, forcing the board to cut $9 million in planned spending.

This year, it appears her proposed increase will again be the largest in the Baltimore area: Howard County Superintendent Michael E. Hickey is asking for a 7.4 percent increase and Carroll County Superintendent William H. Hyde's proposed $172 million budget is an 8 percent increase over this year's budget of $159 million.

Pub Date: 1/16/99

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