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CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

News from around the Baltimore region

March 01, 2005

BALTIMORE

Council wants schools to explain unspent funds

Some City Council members want city school officials to explain why the system has millions of unspent dollars in the budget even as classrooms are chronically short on supplies.

A resolution introduced yesterday by City Councilman Kenneth N. Harris Sr. calls for schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland to explain the underspending to the council.

School officials reported last week that the system had spent $30 million less than it had budgeted for this point in the school year. That total included $10 million earmarked for school supplies.

"In a system that struggles every day to provide our kids with at least an adequate education, to underspend by such an amount, or any amount, is not acceptable and sends a chilling message to those to whom we appeal for funding assistance," the resolution states. "We can hardly make do with what we have - we certainly cannot make do with less."

Copeland said Friday that a change this year in the school system's accounting practices might have created the appearance of underspending.

- Jill Rosen and Laura Loh

ARNOLD

President Bush to visit community college tomorrow

President Bush plans to visit the campus of Anne Arundel Community College tomorrow to discuss his proposals to revamp job-training programs.

Bush's budget for next year calls for doubling the number of participants in community college job-training programs nationwide from 200,000 to 400,000. The administration also wants to consolidate four separate training programs into one, and allow governors to combine others, which would mean a spending cut of $421 million from this year's budget.

At tomorrow's event, in the school's David S. Jenkins Gymnasium, the president will share the stage with citizens - typically a group screened by the White House - who will be invited to discuss their experiences after Bush makes opening remarks.

HALETHORPE

2 teens charged in separate incidents at Good Shepherd

A 14-year-old girl was charged as a juvenile with attempted first-degree murder in the assault of another resident last week at Good Shepherd Center, a school for troubled teenage girls, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

The teenager, who also was charged with first- and second-degree assault, is accused of choking another 14-year-old girl with a shoelace during a fight Friday night, police said. The victim was not hospitalized.

Police said a second 14-year-old girl at the center was charged as a juvenile with second-degree assault after being accused of kicking and punching another girl. The victim was taken to St. Agnes HealthCare for treatment.

A school official declined to comment about the Feb. 25 incidents.

BALTIMORE CITY

City Council bill targets medical-waste incinerator

Backed by a coalition of concerned Curtis Bay residents and an environmental advocacy group, legislation was introduced yesterday in the Baltimore City Council to scale back operations at a violations-prone medical waste incinerator.

Sponsored by Councilman Edward L. Reisinger, the bill would limit the area from which the Phoenix incinerator collects waste. Since 1997, the incinerator firm has been allowed to import waste from as far as 250 miles away. The bill would reduce the future collection area to eight Maryland counties. The company's existing contracts outside that area could continue.

The incinerator on Hawkins Point Road - one of the country's largest burners of medical waste - burns old blood pressure gauges and other medical instruments with mercury in them. Last year, the state attorney general's office threatened the firm with legal action for violating air pollution limits more than 400 times in two years.

A representative for Phoenix Services said the company had not seen the bill and had no comment. Yet Phoenix is "committed to improving the plant, addressing the prior violations and exceeding environmental standards," said Alfred W. Barry III, a planning consultant for the company.

In December, a group of more than 50 Curtis Bay residents called for the incinerator's closing. Chris Fick, a policy associate with Maryland Public Interest Research Group, is hopeful the council bill will lead to that. "It's step one in our campaign to shut the incinerator down," he said.

TOWSON

Emergency response training program to begin March 13

County Fire Department officials said there are openings in "Community Emergency Response Training," a rigorous 10-week emergency-preparedness course that begins March 13.

The program is designed to train civic leaders to guide their communities through the first 72 hours after a disaster. Topics include basic fire suppression and emergency medical services, search and rescue, terrorism and disaster psychology.

Information: 410-887-4876 or www.co.ba.md.us/contact/cert.

BALTIMORE CITY

State investigating complaint of Central Intake conditions

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