Community use of school facilities could be cut


Money for community use of school facilities on nights and weekends will run out by the end of this month, a county auditor announced yesterday.

The county can either grant an extra $300.000 to the Department of Parks and recreation, which schedules programs for community groups wishing to use the schools, or terminate the programs during April, May and June, said assistant county auditor Bruce Emge. Emge was speaking as a member of a County Council task force on school spending reforms which met yesterday.

The county allotted $1 million to reimburse the school system for the cost of using the schools through June. However the $1 million will be gone by the end of March, Emge said.

Charles Richardson, a member of the county budget office, said the Neall administration favors granting the $300.000 to carry the programs through the end of the fiscal year.

School board member Dorothy Jean Chaney said the board will feel "pretty rotten" if the Parks and Recreation Department gets an extra $300.000, while school officials have been advised to live within their budget and chided for asking for more money at the end of the year.

"I do have a bit of a problem with the heavy-handed way the county has made the Board of Education live within its budget but are not making parks and Recreation do the same," said Jack White, the school board's budget officer.

Before they advise the rest of the seven-member council approve the $300.000, council members Diane R. Evans R-Arnold, Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis and Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn, said they want to see a list of what Programs are threatened.

Private groups and churches that pay the school system a fee to use school buildings would not be affected by the budget shortfall, White said. Only individuals and organizations that use the buildings for free and schedule through the parks and Recreation Department are in danger of having their programs cut.

The county plans to change the way it allocates money for after-school use of school buildings, Emge said. In recent years, the money to pay for the cost of using the buildings was rolled into the school budget, inflating the per pupil spending ratio.

Next year, Emge said, the money will be assigned to the Parks and Recreation Department: Parks and Recreation officials will then reimburse the school system.

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