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Delegation meets with School Board

November 21, 2000

Delegation meets with School Board



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


The Washington County Board of Education reinforced its quest to bring more state education funding to the county and discussed the pros and cons of full-day kindergarten Monday morning at a meeting with the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

The board reviewed findings in a draft of the 2000 interim report issued by the Commission on Education Finance, Equity and Excellence, a group formed to review education financing formulas and accountability and make recommendations on how state funding should be improved.

Included in the report are recommended costs for implementing full-day kindergarten, increases in state special education funding and transportation.

Board Vice President Doris Nipps said the School Board has not taken an official position on whether full-day kindergarten is a good idea and has concerns about how the program would be funded.

She said there's talk that Gov. Parris Glendening eventually could mandate the program in the state. While the commission backs a state mandate, it also believes it should be phased in over a four-year period.

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The Maryland State Department of Education estimates a mandatory full-day kindergarten program could cost the state $15.8 million in fiscal year 2002, $33 million in 2003, $51.8 million in 2004 and $71.9 million in 2005.

Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, isn't convinced full-day kindergarten is appropriate yet.

"This is nothing more than an unfunded mandate," Snodgrass said.

Del. Chris Shank, R-Washington, said the delegation should look at more evidence that a full-day program is beneficial before it can lobby for money. "We need to see some of the data to support that this is going to be effective before we support this funding," Shank said.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, had concerns about whether teachers would spend a lot of time dealing with special needs students, therefore taking away classtime from students who don't need special attention.

"Kindergarten is going to be a total waste, just a baby-sitting service," Munson said.

Board President Paul Bailey said the School Board is required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide a classroom with the "least restrictive environment" for students with special needs.

"If you have 17 students and one of them may need special attention, you can't deny them," Bailey said. I don't know how you control it."

The School Board reiterated its past statements that state special education funding needs to be increased to relieve funding on the local level.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett has said local special education costs have risen over the past 15 years from $3.6 million in fiscal year 1987 to $11.7 million in fiscal year 2001, a 222 percent increase.

Delegates Robert McKee, R-Washington and Joseph R. Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington also attended.

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