School budget tensions easing

January 21, 1998

School budget tensions easing


Staff Writer

For years, tensions mounted between the Washington County Commissioners and the Washington County Board of Education when the school system presented spending plans that the commissioners said were unreasonable.

Those budget squabbles may become only a memory, considering the budget presented Tuesday by Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr., the commissioners said Wednesday.

Bartlett's $108 million budget seeks $5.5 million more from the commissioners this year.

In past years, that figure has been as high as $10 million, a figure the commissioners felt was too high, said Commissioner John S. Shank.


"I'm excited about it from that respect," said Commissioner James R. Wade.

In the past, the Washington County Board of Education budgets were "so high, all we did is point fingers," Wade said.

The commissioners said that, although they are not certain how much of the request they can fund, they will work to give the schools what they need.

"I do commend the superintendent for at least starting out on the right foot. I'm definitely going to take a hard look at it," said Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook.

Commissioner R. Lee Downey said he hopes the school board will not add additional requests to the plan.

School board President Robert L. Kline said that will not happen.

"What you heard last night is the budget of the school board," said Kline, referring to the Bartlett's presentation of his budget on Tuesday.

For weeks, the commissioners had emphasized they would not consider any unreasonable budget requests.

Bartlett said school officials initially came up with a list of proposals that would have required $18 million in additional funding from the commissioners. It was later whittled down to $5.5 million, Bartlett said.

Bartlett said the $5.5 million needed from the county could decrease if state funds to the county increase.

Gov. Parris Glendening has proposed giving Washington County schools $54.9 million in state funds in the upcoming budget year, up $2.3 million from this year.

Bartlett has declined to comment on Glendening's projections, saying it is unclear how much the school system could get until legislators, who can cut appropriations, have completed working on the package.

The school board will hold a public hearing on its final budget plan on Feb. 26. The budget will be sent to the Washington County Commissioners on March 17.

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