The Carroll County Board of Education last night unanimously adopted a $173 million operating budget that includes 32 new teaching positions to reduce class sizes and funds for planning time for elementary school teachers.
Superintendent William H. Hyde added 22 of the positions to his 1999-2000 spending plan before sending the amended budget to the board for a vote.
"We have absolutely got to address the issue of overload on our staff," Hyde told the board. "I believe this is a reasonable request, a request you could certainly defend to the public and defend to the [county] commissioners."
Hyde said that legislation proposed last month in the House of Delegates is expected to cover the $869,880 cost of 22 new teachers.
The board's spending plan calls for an 8.7 percent increase over this year's $159 million budget. The proposal now goes to the county commissioners, who will vote on it in the spring.
The board's request for a county contribution of $95.7 million is $2.4 million more than the commissioners have said they will provide. The estimated state and federal portions of the budget are $72.2 million and $3.6 million, respectively.
Before the board adopted the budget, Patricia Mather, mother of a Westminster High School student, stressed the need for more teachers. She said that her son's physics class had 37 students.
Board member Joseph D. Mish warned of a projected teacher shortage and the need to attract top-notch instructors.
"My concern is that within the next five years, we may begin to fall back on standardized testing," he said.
Board President Gary W. Bauer shared his concerns.
"We're going to start losing more and more of our senior teachers to retirement," he said.
Planning time for elementary teachers emerged as the most controversial budget topic since Hyde presented his spending plan six weeks ago. In December, the board removed 16 hours of planning time that was built into the school calendar by starting school late eight days during the year. The board said the late starts cut into instructional time for pupils.
In the past month, teachers by the hundreds have packed budget hearings to demand more planning time, arguing that they can't do their jobs effectively without it.
The board voted earlier this month to restore 11 hours of the planning time by including four days in the school calendar when schools will close two hours and 45 minutes early.
Hyde's original spending plan included $272,000 for part-time employees to relieve classroom teachers, but the money would provide only 15 minutes of extra planning time a week. The seven extra positions added last night mean that all elementary teachers will get about 30 minutes of planning time a week.
Seventeen additional clerical positions are included in the budget, at a cost of $411,622, to provide assistance to teachers.
Pub Date: 2/23/99