Alternative education is given additional funding in Harford


The Harford County Board of Education added $280,000 for an alternative-education program to its proposed $203.7 million budget last night.

The proposal from the Alternative Education Framework Team requests that $80,000 be earmarked to increase the number of voluntary alternative-education students from 40 to 80 next school year.

The group also requested $200,000 to fund an alternative-education pilot program. The program provides instruction to students who are unable to take classes during the day.

The team made its requests in a letter to Jeffery N. Grotsky, the county superintendent of schools, dated yesterday. Grotsky presented the letter to board members last night at a public hearing and budget work session at Southampton Middle School.

"Because of the budget process, we've got to put a placeholder here for this request," Grotsky said. "We're not buying anything yet. We're just exploring the possibility."

The request is in addition to the $3.3 million being sought from the county. The county amount is part of the $11.2 million boost over last year's budget that school officials estimate will be needed for the 1997-1998 school year. The previous year's budget was $192.5 million.

The proposed budget includes a projection of $7.9 million in revenue, which includes state funding and an expected loss of $500,000 in federal funding. The expected expenses include $3.5 million for the 802 new students that officials expect next year and $7.7 million for the cost of doing business.

Grotsky said he has been working on the budget since taking office on July 1. He said the budget reflects the needs expressed by parents, teachers and administrators, including the need for building repairs.

"When we held the school house meetings, I didn't hear people complaining about the quality of education students were receiving," Grotsky said.

"What people were complaining about were problems with infrastructure."

For that reason, Grotsky said, budget priorities were divided into school improvement needs and systemwide needs.

School improvement needs include $563,850 for Forest Lakes Elementary School, a 600-seat elementary school planned for the Forest Hill community and funds for the hiring of 45 new teachers -- 40 for high schools and five for elementary schools -- to deal with the influx of new students.

Systemwide priorities include such things as a new budget office, a strategic planning program and a preventive maintenance fund to keep buildings from falling into disrepair.

Officials said the budget does not include the cost of step or salary increases for system employees.

Grotsky said 86 percent of the funding will go toward instruction and student support, and that 14 percent will be used for operations. Of that 14 percent, 2.4 percent will be used for administrative costs, he said.

"I developed the budget on behalf of the community," Grotsky said.

"It truly does reflect what is important for the students."

Another public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 7 at Church Creek Elementary School, 4299 Church Creek Road. Public comment will be heard at a board meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 13 at Southampton Middle School, 1200 Moores Mill Road.

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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