The Carroll County Board of Education approved a $317 million operating budget last night after a final hearing on the spending plan.
Revised to account for negotiations with collective bargaining units that represent teachers, administrators and others, the budget request for the 2008 fiscal year includes a 7 percent salary increase for contract employees.
With those increases and some other additions, the proposed budget is about $30 million more than the approved funding of $287 million for this school year.
Superintendent Charles I. Ecker requested about $530,000 for additional gifted-and-talented resource teachers in elementary and middle schools, answering some parent concerns expressed at two budget hearings held last month and yesterday.
At both meetings, mothers said students who are making the grade deserve more support and attention to their needs. They asked for full-time gifted-and-talented instructors to end the current practice of the resource teachers splitting time between elementary schools.
Ecker also sought another $800,000 to implement a new comprehensive reading improvement program. The money would go toward professional development and the hiring of reading specialists at the middle- and high-school levels, as well as instructional assistants.
The spending plan, approved in the session at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, also sets aside about $2 million for completing the final phase of full-day kindergarten at Freedom District, Hampstead, Manchester, Mechanicsville, Runnymede and Sandymount elementaries -- and would add more than 120 new positions, including resource teachers and instructional assistants.
The budget will next be presented to the county commissioners. It will probably have to be reduced, Ecker said, because the plan is about $5 million higher than the county would provide.
"We're going to try to get more money, and we may," Ecker said. But more than likely, he added, "we're going to have to cut."
Final approval is expected in May.