Anne Arundel County school administrators are trying to restore funds that the school board left out of next year's budget, including money to hire additional gifted-instruction specialists, increase alternative-education services and maintain current funding for school libraries.
Superintendent Eric J. Smith told the school board yesterday that he would like to see $3.5 million added to the $664.5 million operating budget approved by the County Council last week. The money would come from a reserve account that was unused last year.
Smith said he also was able to trim $1.8 million in operating costs in areas ranging from maintenance personnel to office supplies.
The $5.3 million in extra funds, Smith said, could be used to pay for some of the items that the school board considered too costly to seek from the county.
Smith also asked the school board to consider adding $500,000 to assist Van Bokkelen Elementary, the county's most academically troubled school, and restoring $174,000 to the public information office, which some school board members feel is inefficient.
The board is scheduled to vote on the recommendations June 16. If the board approves Smith's plan, the county would have to pass legislation to allow the school system to use last year's leftover funds.
In other business yesterday, the school board heard a report about services for youths with serious behavioral problems. Administrators say there is a shortage of openings in the county's two alternative schools, J. Albert Adams Academy in Annapolis, and Mary Moss Academy in Crownsville.
Of the 551 students who were suspended for more than 10 days or expelled this year, 360 were able to find spots in the alternative schools, which provide more structured programs and counseling. The rest either attended evening school or were home schooled for six hours a week. Some received no services, according to the report.
School board member Michael J. McNelly said funding for alternative education should be increased.
"Rather than throw [disruptive students] out the door and let the rest of society deal with them, we've got to make a sincere attempt to address their problems," McNelly said after the meeting.