School Board presents $119 million budget proposal

February 28, 2000|By BRUCE HAMILTON

The Washington County Board of Education presented its $119 million budget proposal to the County Commissioners Monday in a meeting marked by minimal testimony from residents and lengthy dialogue between the boards.

All but one of the commissioners asked several questions about budget items ranging from pay raises to last year's surplus. Two suggested combining services such as health insurance to reduce costs.

About 77 people, including county and school system employees, attended the meeting at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater. Of the 10 who spoke, two urged full funding of the $66 million contribution requested from the county.

School Board President Paul Bailey said the county is spending less per student while its wealth per pupil improves, which he called intolerable. He said the budget proposal represents the critical needs of students.


Each of the six School Board members present spoke on aspects of the budget, including community engagement, staff development and technology, reading, salaries and the economic development connection.

Stephen L. Hummel, chairman of the budget advocacy and review committee, said recently improved test scores are a testament to the talents in the system. "I am certain all of you in your election platform promised to support education," he said.

Members of the Associated Builders and Contractors spoke in opposition to proposed legislation unrelated to the operating budget that would extend the prevailing wage law to school construction projects.

"What the governor is saying is that the market system doesn't work," said Wilford Seilhamer, one of four who spoke about Senate Bill 202. The builder's organization also handed out literature in the theater lobby.

School Bus Contractors Association President Terry Hovermale and Vice President Tammy Shaffer spoke out for higher pay. Hovermale said he is disappointed with the School Board's lack of support for the drivers' financial needs.

Educational Support Personnel Local No. 1 President Bonnie Parks said the union generally supports most of the School Board's budget. But she expressed concern about a $50,000 line item earmarked to implement a consultant's recommendations.

The board has not adopted the Hendricks and Associates proposal, which would change the job titles and salaries of several workers. "We believe this report is seriously flawed," Parks said.

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