Superintendent proposes cuts to address executive's reduced budget

The Baltimore Sun

After getting $4 million less than requested for the 2009 operating budget, Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin has proposed a series of cuts that include limiting the number of positions that he had hoped to add for the coming school year.

"Even though we understand the county's budget position and predicament, these will be difficult cuts to makes," Cousin said.

County Executive Ken Ulman announced the reduction of school funding last week when he unveiled his $1.4 billion budget.

In February, the school board approved a spending plan that included a $661 million operating budget.

In the wake of the county executive's reduction, Cousin plans to cut:

$1.3 million from maintenance-related projects.

$560,000 for 10 new technology teachers at the middle school level.

$500,000 for new furniture in some schools; $300,000 for new textbooks.

$280,000 to reduce the number of new administrative interns from 15 to 10.

$175,000 for legal fees.

$140,000 for miscellaneous items such as salary adjustments and substitute bus contracting.

$133,000 for a new Web television employee and equipment.

$113,000 for two intervention specialists at the middle school level.

$73,00 for a public information specialist.

$48,000 for two student assistants.

The County Council has until May to approve Ulman's budget. Council members can restore any funding that the executive removes, if they find a way to pay for it.

"We're going to work with the county executive and the County Council to make this the very best budget we can," Cousin said.

Winter reminder

Though the weather is starting to quickly turn for the better, students and staffers at county schools will get a blunt reminder of winter at the end of the school year.

The inclement weather days that were used Feb. 13 and 22 will be tacked onto the end of the year. Now the last day is Monday, June 16, instead of the originally scheduled Thursday, June 12.

The county's school calendar is equipped to add up to six days at the end of the year to make up for inclement weather.

The school system switched to the current system in 1991. Before that, three days were automatically built into the school calendar, which many found confusing, spokeswoman Patti Caplan said.

The county averages three inclement weather days per year, Caplan said.

Students' program

On Friday, 400 high schoolers were to learn about the system's Gifted and Talented Education Program mentorship offerings during the 16th annual High School Student Learning Conference.

"Knowledge, Research, Communication: Putting the Pieces Together," scheduled to be held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory's Kossiakoff Center near Laurel, attracted 75 student presenters, who recently completed research projects and mentorships.

County Executive Ken Ulman was slated to be the keynote speaker.

The presenters were planning to showcase their work to prospective students during the five-hour conference, which was sponsored by the school system's GT program.

Some of the sessions scheduled included: "Curing AIDS and World Hunger Through Communication and Media," presented by Katie Garbis of River Hill; "Homicide, Rape, and Robbery: Reducing Juvenile Serious/Violent Crime Through Legislation," presented by Matthew Hoyt of Glenelg; "Irish Dance: Intertwining Science and Art into a Celtic Knot," presented by Kyla Muhlberger of Centennial; and "Yummy for Your Tummy: The Nutritional and Scientific Worth of Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids," presented by Yusuf Ahmad of Atholton.

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