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The county school board is expected to take the unusual step Monday night of testifying on a bill before the County Council.

Board members agreed Thursday to support Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass' bill,which would appoint a committee to provide income estimates and spending level guidelines for the county budget. The board also plans to press for school system representation on the committee.

It is rare for the school board to take a position on council bills.

Most bills have no direct effect on the county public schools,"but I think this one did," said chairwoman Deborah D. Kendig, who provided impetus for the board action.

"If we spend more than 50 percent of the money, we need to be involved from the beginning," Kendig said.

The allocation for education represents about 54 percent of the county operating budget for 1991-1992.

School board members are still smarting from an $8.9 million cut in their operating budgetrequest, administered last spring by County Executive Charles I. Ecker. He made the cut after the board, atEcker's urging, had sliced $12.4 million from Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's $200.8 million proposal.

Pendergrass, D-1st, said she expected some groups to seek citizen representation on the committee. She said she wants the committee to consist primarily of county employees who provide data and fiscal advice to the council and executive.

Her bill calls for the committee to include the county auditor, chief administrative officer, finance director, budget administrator and three members of the public.

Adding a staff representative from the school system "might be do-able," Pendergrass said.

Council President C. Vernon Gray said he hadn't heard any opposition to the bill among his four colleagues,and "it's something I'm very supportive of."

Second District Councilman Darrel E. Drown, one of two Republicans on the county's governing board, said he isn't opposed to the bill but wants to be sure it doesn't duplicate the county executive's efforts.

The Pendergrass bill establishes a permanent group to assess the county's economic condition and provide annual income estimates and spending guidelines for next year's operating budget.

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