The Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously this week to implement a money-saving program including some job freezes, overtime cuts, and reductions on overhead costs in order to cover a projected budget deficit of $963,320 for this year.
The blame for most of the expected deficit has been laid to this winter's unusually cold temperatures, which have forced the school system to overspend its utility budget by an estimated $800,000.
The total savings expected from th board's action on Tuesday is $940,000 in this year's budget; in addition, the board has asked the County Council for a supplemental appropriation of $500,000 to cover some of the excess heating costs.
The largest single cut approved this week is a $474,000 reduction in salary expenses resulting from a job freeze, effective yesterday, covering such jobs as maintenance workers, teachers' assistants, clerical workers and building service workers.
If any positions such as these become vacant from now through June 30, they will not be refilled unless school superintendent Charles M. Bernardo or his deputy, Donald Miedema, authorize an exception to the policy.
Not affected by this job freeze are such positions as teachers, principals, bus operators and attendants and cafeteria workers.
In other action Tuesday, members of the board indicated by a 4 to 3 vote that they intend to reduce the number of administrative areas, or geographical and organizational subdivisions in the county school system, from six to five.
The move will save an estimated $375,000 in administrative costs for next year and is expected the result in the elimination of 17 administrative jobs. Board members Blair Ewing and Marian Greenblatt, who opposed the reorganization, indicated they wanted to study the option of going from six to four administrative areas.
Board president Herbert Benington opposed the move because, he said, the board should wait for a public hearing on the question before voting.
When administrative areas were first established in the early 1960s to improve communication with locl areas, there were 12 of them; but each had only a director, none had a formal staff.
The probable elimination of 17 positions in the course of the reorganization will be accomplished through attrition and transfers, according to a spokesman for the school board.
The board is expected to hold a public hearing on the redrawing of the area boundary lines early nexe month.