Schools may get nearly $1 million

April 06, 1997


Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County will receive nearly $1 million in extra state education funding next year as part of additional education funds being proposed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

"It's a million we didn't have before," said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, who chairs the county's delegation in the Maryland General Assembly.

The extra $981,181 to be spent on county schools and Hagerstown Junior College is part of an overall $33.4 million plan from Glendening to offer additional educational funding throughout the state.


But Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington, questioned the ability of the state to pay the tab.

"It's always nice to have extra money, but it's a question of whether you can afford it," Poole said.

Poole said he would have liked to have seen the money set aside this year, and then maybe used in the future for pay for raises for state employees or to guard the state against a possible economic downturn.

Support strong

But support for the extra school funding is strong, particularly among lawmakers who wanted something in return for their support of legislation to spend $254 million over five years on Baltimore city schools. The bill is the result of a settlement of three lawsuits brought against the state to seek additional funding for the city's ailing school system.

The backlash to the agreement prompted several larger counties in the state to push for a plan that would have had $44.1 million in new school funds. That would have given the county $1.3 million in additional education dollars. But that was deemed too costly by Glendening and many legislative leaders.

The latest plan will pay the county Board of Education $571,200, based on the number of students receiving free and reduced-price meals. Another $140,000 would be spent in pre-kindergarten programs and $90,000 would go for repairs of school buildings. Schools would also receive $15,000 based on the number of students learning English as a second language.

Schools Superintendent Wayne F. Gersen said the county welcomes the new money.

"Obviously we would have liked the earlier (proposal) that was higher, but obviously this is better than nothing, which was a possible scenario," Gersen said.

In addition, $165,181 would go to HJC, which received the largest grant among the seven community colleges slated for extra funding,

Those funds would be above Glendening's initial budget proposal to spend $77.7 million in the county next year, including 62 million next year on county schools and $4.1 million on HJC. That would increase the county's appropriation by 5 percent over this year's $74.9 million.

Glendening has proposed that the extra educational dollars continue for four more years, with the five-year county total coming to $4.9 million.

But the funding is contingent on the legislative approval of the Baltimore deal, which lawmakers debated Saturday evening and could be approved by Monday.

Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, said it would be "nice" to get some additional county dollars, but he added that the real purpose of the legislation is to aid a failing school system.

"The state of Maryland, all of us, are going to pay for that in the future if we don't do something today," he said.

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