When Carroll County schools Superintendent Charles I. Ecker presented his proposed operating budget for the coming year recently, he anticipated a $568,000 shortfall in state funding. Then he heard Gov. Martin O'Malley's state budget plan a week later and discovered the cut would be about $4 million.
"I guess I'm hoping that's all," Ecker said yesterday.
As the school board presented Ecker's fiscal 2010 proposal at a hearing last night before an audience of about 50, he acknowledged that the state allowance could decrease further, and that county funding could also shrink.
Ecker's $336.2 million proposed budget ($3.4 million less than the current year's allotment) calls for cutting 40 positions, including 20 high school teachers, 10 middle school teachers and three high school assistant principals.
The 40 position cuts would take effect June 30, two weeks after the end of the school year. Ecker said that when he presented a proposed budget last month, he anticipated that most, if not all, staff members would be reassigned when school reconvenes in the fall.
Newly elected school board member Jennifer Seidel said she is "very concerned" about the cutting of teachers. "Those are the people who work directly with our students," she said, "and I'm concerned about class size."
Michele Johnson, a consultant from Mount Airy who has two children in the school system, suggested that instead of eliminating 40 positions the board should ask each public school employee making $80,000 or more annually to take a temporary, 20 percent pay cut.
Ecker said he won't know how much funding the state and county will offer until the beginning of May. Until then, he says, he will consider other cuts.