Budget to be presented to school board tomorrow


Anne Arundel County school board members will get the chance tomorrow morning to review Acting Superintendent Carol S. Parham's proposed $414.2 million operating budget.

Tomorrow night, at a hearing in Annapolis, they'll also get their first taste of what the public believes should be the priorities for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Dr. Parham's proposed budget marks an increase of $30.8 million, or 8 percent, over the current year's $383.5 million allocation.

Most of the proposed increase would cover pay raises negotiated last fall for employees: a 2 percent raise effective last month and a 4 percent raise in July, when the budget would take effect.

A Board of Education meeting, at school system headquarters on Riva Road, is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. The budget hearing, also at headquarters, begins at 7:30 p.m.

A second budget hearing will be conducted at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at Glen Burnie High School.

Dr. Parham's budget includes money to hire 51 teachers and 43 special education teachers.

Those are necessities that shouldn't be cut, board President Thomas Twombly said.

But there's a hidden problem in the budget, and board members may have to wait another month to find out its extent -- and how much it will cost them.

With the exception of $120,000 set aside to hire two employees to cope with discipline and child-abuse problems, the proposed LTC budget does not include items needed to fulfill the provisions of two major agreements the Board of Education reached in December.

One agreement came about as a result of the Baron report, which investigated the school system's handling of child-abuse cases. It recommended hiring three new employees, retaining separate lawyers for the eight-member school board and staff, and hiring consultants to train school employees how to recognize a child abuser.

The costs associated with implementing the Baron report will be "significant," said Ken Lawson, acting associate superintendent of schools.

The price tag to meet the requirements of the second agreement -- one on civil rights reached by the school system and the U.S. Department of Education -- should be much smaller.

Those costs are confined to printing expenses and the cost of providing training on cultural sensitivity, Mr. Lawson said.

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