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January 10, 2007


Saying the school system can be one of the country's best and that the county can afford to pay for it, Anne Arundel Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell has proposed a $920 million operating budget for the next fiscal year.

The operating budget, which he outlined to the school board Jan. 3, calls for a $131 million increase - 17 percent - to expand special education services, prekindergarten and all-day kindergarten programs; bolster security; update technology; and launch the International Baccalaureate program at Meade High School and precursor programs at three middle schools. It also funds a previously negotiated 6 percent salary increase for teachers.

The call for excellence might put into focus the amount of money the county, constrained by a tax cap, is willing to spend on education in a belt-tightening year, given other pressing funding demands.

The county faces several expenses that will total in the billions of dollars: road upgrades and an expansion of mass transit around Fort Meade; the negotiation of 10 union contracts; growing commitments for retirees' health care; and school construction and renovations. County Executive John R. Leopold vowed in his fall campaign that he would not raise taxes.


Given the financial challenges facing the county, can Anne Arundel afford a 17 percent increase in schools funding? How should it be paid for?

Tell us what you think at arundel.speakout@baltsun.com by tomorrow. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be published Sunday.

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