As the Carroll Board of Education begins...


As the Carroll Board of Education begins cutting $1.95 million from its 1992 budget, the school staff is counting on millions more for classroom materials and additional teachers next year.

Superintendent R. Edward Shilling, during discussion of cost-cutting measures lastweek, told board members that the staff is looking at a spending plan for next year that is about $5 million more than the current budget.

The money school officials are banking on would come not from thecounty but from the state's aid program APEX -- Action Plan for Educational Excellence. Carroll officials hope to receive an additional $6.5 million next year.

"It's a soft figure," cautioned William H. Hyde, assistant superintendent of administration, noting the legislature could trim that figure. "We're assuming the best possible dollarswe can get from the state."

There is not much hope of more money from the county. Carroll Budget Director Steven D. Powell said countyagencies have been instructed not to exceed their slashed 1992 budgets in developing spending plans for fiscal 1993. Schools can expect to receive about $55.2 million, down from the $58.1 million the systeminitially received from the county this year.

The board trimmed $1 million from its $107 million 1992 budget last fall during an earlier budget-cutting session. Besides local cuts, educators also have had to compensate for the loss of about $600,000 to teacher pensions and Social Security programs and non-mandated programs.

But they arewrestling with growth, as well as cuts.

Educators estimate an additional 800 students will enter Carroll classrooms in the fall. More students mean more teachers and more classroom materials. The district also will open a new elementary school in Westminster in the fall.

Although Hyde couldn't offer specifics about next year's budget, he said staff is incorporating new positions for growth and supplies and materials to meet additional students and for maintenance in the fiscal 1993 plan. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Meanwhile, theboard, responding to planned cuts in state aid to counties, trimmed $1.25 million of the requested $1.95 million from its 1992 budget Wednesday.

Among the cuts were: $124,964 in administrative services, which included money for workshops to reshape curriculum guides to address the state's school improvement efforts; $139,531 in plant operations, including money to fill long-term custodial vacancies; and $82,402 in maintenance, delaying preventive maintenance and purchases ofcarpet and draperies for schools.

"In the long run, this will cost us more money," Hyde said. "The key to success in a maintenance program is to do preventive work on an ongoing basis. You can't wait forstuff to break down."

Other savings were realized by trimming: $230,000 in capital improvement programs, including a project to make Elmer Wolfe Elementary accessible to the handicapped; $58,107 from thecommunity-use budget, which means users may have to pay a fee to useschools on weekends to cover custodial costs; and $106,296 in the transportation budget for replacement of two buses and preventive maintenance to vehicles.

Hyde said the delay poses no safety problems for drivers or students. He said school districts are required by law to replace buses after 12 years.

"We will just push the bus use out to the limit," Hyde said. "We've taken everything away we can before getting to the schools. We're at the limits now. Once we go beyond the $1.2 million, we're looking at staff, salaries or what's in the closet in the school."

And those are areas school staff have targeted to trim another $700,000 from the budget to meet the commissioners' request. Four alternatives were presented for board consideration Wednesday:

* Trimming $698,403 in supplies, including chalk, paper,crayons, pencils, library books, textbooks, new equipment, money to repair equipment, transparencies, slides and copy machine and media materials at all schools.

* Furloughing all employees for two days -- Jan. 24, an in-service day for teachers, and June 18, the last dayof school. The measure would save the district $700,000. Salary adjustments would be made over 10 pay periods to reduce the impact to workers.

* Reduce annual salaries of all 2,200 employees by 1 percent, for a savings of $700,000. Reductions would take place over 10 pay periods to reduce impact.

* Laying off 130 workers, including 83 teachers, on April 1, for a savings of $700,000.

The board plans tomeet with the five associations representing school workers to discuss all the options except cutting school supplies. The board is expected to make a decision by Friday.

"None of them are good alternatives," said board president Cheryl A. McFalls. "I will do the best I can not to allow (cuts) to affect students."

She said the proposal to cut supplies to schools was not an alternative she would consider.The board agreed and has not included that proposal.

Cindy Cummings, president of the Carroll County Education Association, which represents 1,300 teachers, said she was "flabbergasted" the board would consider cutting people before supplies.

"You can have a classroom full of books and calculators, but what value are they if you don't have a teacher," she said. "I also think cuts could be made in extracurricular activities before they should be made in curricular activities. It's not to say I'm against sports or music, but I think you haveto have priorities in times like these."

Shilling, though, has stressed throughout the budget-cutting process that he will not slash programs or extracurricular activities.

"We are not going to use kids as a ploy in the community," he said.

Curtis Schnorr, presidentof the 100-member association representing Carroll school administrators and supervisors, said he saw only one alternative among the fourand that was the proposal to furlough workers. He said workers, who did not receive a raise this year, would never regain a salary reduction.

"To lay off 130 employees on April 1 isn't the most effectiveway to (make cuts)," he said. "It will mean that class sizes will double or triple."

Schools staff hoping for more state money




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