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Md. boosts school funds

January 11, 2001

Md. boosts school funds



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - Washington County public schools could get an extra $3.1 million for education programs under a spending boost proposed by Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening Thursday.

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With a class of second-grade students sitting on the floor in front of his podium at the State House, Glendening unveiled a proposal to increase the state's aid to education budget by $203.3 million in 2002. That represents an 8.5 percent increase.

"There's simply no function of government that is as important as what we do in education," Glendening said.

The added money includes the second half of the governor's teacher salary challenge program, which gives the county 1 percent matching money to increase teacher salaries by 5 percent next year.

It also includes $19 million statewide to improve kindergarten through third-grade programs. The money will be distributed based on poverty levels and student population.

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Washington County will be able to decide how to spend its $526,000 share, whether it be for class-size reduction, early reading programs, all-day kindergarten or library books.

"That's really good news," said Phil Ray, human resources director for the Washington County Board of Education. Ray was in Annapolis Thursday with other members of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce to have lunch with the Washington County delegation to the General Assembly.

The governor also announced Thursday he is creating an $11 million early childhood initiative to turn daycare centers into learning centers. Schools and childcare centers will apply for the money through a competitive bid process.

The money can be spent on accreditation of child-care centers, certification of child-care professionals and early identification of gifted and talented children.

"The investments we make in the first few years of a child's life will have a significant impact on how their future unfolds. We owe it to our children to help them get a jump start on life," he said.

More details of the governor's education budget will be released next week, when the governor presents his proposal to the General Assembly.

The legislature can only cut from the budget before approving it by April.

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