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Budget plan would add school jobs

February 21, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

WASHINGTON COUNTY

julieg@herald-mail.com

The $176.6 million budget proposed by the Washington County Board of Education's administrative staff includes 96.5 new positions, although specifics are not set in stone, school system officials said last week.

The Washington County Commissioners have not yet approved funding for the school system's operating budget.

The school board will vote Tuesday on whether to adopt a draft budget to take to public hearing.

There is enough flexibility in the proposed budget to redeploy or alter new positions based on what the actual enrollment turns out to be and which schools see enrollment increases, schools officials said during last Tuesday's work session.

For example, the positions include 12 new elementary school teachers for enrollment growth. Four of those positions are expected to be contingency positions, Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Patricia Abernethy said.

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The school system's ideal goals for elementary class sizes are 18 students per class in Title I schools and 21 students per class in non-Title I schools, Abernethy and Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said. Title I schools are those with the highest percentage of poverty, or students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, Abernethy said.

If all of the elementary teaching positions are not needed as regular classroom teachers, some might be used as enrichment teachers or instrumental music teachers in elementary schools, Abernethy said. Enrichment classes provide more challenging curriculum for gifted and potentially gifted students.

The enrollment forecast for next school year could change during the summer, causing some positions to be shifted around the schools, Abernethy said.

Also during last Tuesday's meeting, Board Vice President Jacqueline B. Fischer asked for an analysis of how many administrative positions are being added. Fischer said board officials need to address recent criticism leveled at the school system.

Morgan said there are a minimal number of new administrative positions, but there are a number of new teaching positions.

Board member Wayne D. Ridenour said he didn't have any problems with the new administrative positions he saw listed in the budget handout.

Board member Roxanne R. Ober said she wanted an analysis of both administrative and teaching positions.

School board officials made reference to an article in The Herald-Mail about a Maryland Public Policy Institute report that stated increases in administrative spending in the school system greatly outpaced increases in instructional spending between 1992 and 2002.

Fischer and Chief Operating Officer William Blum questioned the accuracy and currency of the report.

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