School board budget may change again

June 04, 1997


Staff Writer

The $99.9 million draft operating budget approved by the Washington County Board of Education Tuesday night could change a lot before the final public hearing Monday night, school officials said.

The $4.2 million in budget cuts include $225,000 to operate the Fairview Outdoor Center in Clear Spring, $227,000 in new and current staff and $1.55 million in initiatives to improve elementary reading and math and help at-risk students.

Although the school board will still have to make major cuts to balance its 1997-98 budget, it will have greater flexibility in what it cuts thanks to a late-breaking change in the Washington County Commissioners' funding formula, said board member Edwin Hayes.


The school board had asked for nearly $6 million in additional funding for its operating budget and $2.2 million outside the budget to upgrade technology.

The commissioners had allocated about $1.9 million in additional money for the school board operating budget and about $2.1 million in one-time expenses, which couldn't include salary increases.

Prompted by a plea by the school board earlier Tuesday, the commissioners moved about $1.5 million from a proposed one-time expense fund into the operating budget, leaving a $1 million allotment for one-time expenses.

School officials were notified late Tuesday afternoon.

While it would have been better if the commissioners decided to increase total funding, Hayes said he's still "tickled to death" that they'll have more money to work with in the operating budget.

Under the state maintenance of effort law, it also assures the school about $3 million of additional funding for the 1998-99 operating budget.

But they're still looking at about $3.2 million in cuts, school officials said.

It appears a proposed $1.3 million grant program to boost elementary math and reading is gone for the coming budget year, said Hayes, who has championed the program throughout the budgeting process.

Hayes said the school board will be looking to the public to guide changes to the draft budget, which will be made during a work session Monday afternoon.

The final budget hearing will be at 7 p.m. Monday in the South Hagerstown High School auditorium.

The work session is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.

The board will approve its final budget during its business meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 10 in the board auditorium.

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