School budget reflects increased costs, enrollment At...

LETTERS

January 21, 2001

School budget reflects increased costs, enrollment

At the board of education's last regular monthly meeting on Jan. 10, Interim Superintendent of Schools Charles Ecker presented the superintendent's proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2002.

This proposed budget matches the school system's revenue as it addresses numerous cost increases the school system is facing for FY 2002.

These include increased fuel and energy prices, transportation costs, health-care utilization, increased costs for special-education services defined by law, a salary enhancement program for employees and costs associated with opening Century High School for ninth- and 10th-graders this August.

We also want to position the budget to meet the salary requirements of the governor's challenge, should additional funding become available from state or local sources.

The FY 2002 restricted and unrestricted operating budgets come to $187,750,578. The proposed increase in the unrestricted budget is $5,158,716.

The restricted budget, which reflects changes in state and federal funds, is expected to increase by $257,467.

Restricted funds are targeted for a specific purpose. They are generally grants from federal or state sources.

Non-restricted funds are appropriations from local and state governments to be used for the education program at the board's discretion.

For next fiscal year, enrollment projections show an increase of 214 students. Enrollment is now decreasing in elementary schools while middle- and high-school enrollments are increasing.

The school system's proposal is to move teaching staff to accommodate reasonable class sizes and address the immediate growth areas. The budget also includes positions associated with the opening of Century and Winters Mill high schools, as well as one additional recommended administrative internal auditor. These are the only new positions in the budget.

In addition to increases in staff, school operating budgets have been increased by 5 percent per pupil to accommodate cost increases. And, for the second year, school principals will receive a per-pupil allocation to make funding decisions appropriate for their individual schools.

The budget also includes funding to maintain a focus on improving instructional technology.

Parents and citizens are encouraged to participate in the budget process. They can address the board of education at regular monthly meetings at each of the budget hearings and the budget adoption meeting. Written comments are also always welcome.

The budget presentations are scheduled for Jan. 25 at Shiloh Middle School and for Feb. 6 at Oklahoma Road Middle School. Both presentations begin at 7 p.m.

The final budget presentation will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at Westminster High School. This meeting will include adoption of the budget by the board.

We are interested in hearing your comments and suggestions. And, once the board formally adopts the budget and presents it to the county commissioners, citizens can make their concerns known by contacting the commissioners.

We value your input and suggestions and encourage you to become involved in the budget process.

C. Scott Stone

Hampstead

The writer is a member of the Board of Education of Carroll County.

Let families choose kindergarten schedule

The announcement that the governor is supporting early education with a $30 million commitment is a big win for all Maryland's children ("Schools look for an 8.5% boost," Jan. 12).

I want to also thank the governor for not phasing in a full-day kindergarten plan.

Please listen to the families who are making daily financial sacrifices to keep a parent at home to take an active role in raising our own children: We do not want full-day kindergarten forced upon us. We have made the choice to stay at home to nurture our children and prepare them for school. Full-day kindergarten should remain an option, and I applaud the schools in our area who are supporting families by offering both full- and half-day kindergarten.

Full-day kindergarten is not appropriate or necessary for all children. Do not turn kindergarten into full-day day care -- not all of us want it or need it.

Families should have the right to choose what is best for our children.

Jennifer Gigliotti

Hampstead

Gun safety curriculum can serve as an example

I recently heard a report on National Public Radio that discussed the new gun safety curriculum offered in the Carroll County schools.

I was pleased to hear that the program has showed such promise that many other school districts, not only in Maryland but in other states, are making inquiries to school officials about establishing similar programs in their districts.

According to the report, the apparent success of this program comes because the curriculum was developed with much input from both sides of the argument about guns. The program makes no effort to demonize the use of guns, nor does it encourage their use.

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