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School board stands firm on budget

April 08, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The Washington County Board of Education will lobby the County Commissioners to refrain from making a projected $1.9 million in cuts from the proposed education budget for the next fiscal year.

Four school board members agreed at a meeting Saturday morning to send the County Commissioners letters suggesting alternative funding sources and urging adoption of the school board's budget proposal.

The meeting was held to discuss options to avoid the loss of requested county funding. Among the proposals discussed was one to recommend the state pay for school nurses, which could free $1.5 million.

Last week, the commissioners, facing a multi-million-dollar gap between requests and expected income for next budget year, tentatively cut $1.9 million from the school board's request of $66 million in county funding. The request is an increase of about $6.5 million over the current county funding level.

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The total proposed school budget for fiscal year 2000-2001, including state funding, is $119 million.

The four board members at the meeting Saturday agreed to lobby the commissioners, individually and with letters from the board, to fully fund their budget request.

"I believe you always ask for what you need and this is what we need," said board member Herbert J. Hardin. "We'll have to sell (the commissioners) on the needs."

School system Director of Budget and Finance Chris South told the board members Saturday the commissioners favored giving a 4 percent pay raise to the teachers, but no raise for support and administrative staff.

Also tentatively cut from the school board's budget were any new positions.

The board's proposed budget includes raises for all employees and the hiring of seven high school reading teachers and three new guidance counselors.

Board member B. Marie Byers suggested the board mail four letters to the commissioners.

One letter would ask that the budget line for school nurses be shifted from the school system to the county health department budget.

Byers said the health department should then ask the state to subsidize school nurses. She said the state subsidizes school nurses in most Maryland counties.

The second letter would request that funding for crossing guards not come out of the school board's budget, which would save the school system almost $200,000. Byers suggested the crossing guards be funded in the budget for the Sheriff's Department.

In the third letter, the board would stress the importance of bringing on additional reading teachers and guidance counselors.

The fourth letter would request that all school system employees receive a raise.

"We can't retain administrators and support staff with no raise," said board member Edwin Hayes.

The letters are to be delivered Monday. The commissioners are expected to informally finalize their budget Tuesday.

School Board members Andrew Humphreys, Mary L. Wilfong and Doris J. Nipps did not attend Saturday's meeting.

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