Prince George's County School Superintendent Edward J. Feeney has submitted a preliminary budget to the county school board that cuts 165 teaching and 12 staff positions, reduces funds for books and supplies and requires strict conservation of fuel and electricity, school officials said yesterday.
Despite what school budget planners said were unprecedented costcutting measures, however, the proposed budget could be $18 million or more higher than last year's budget, an increase County Executive Lawrence J. Jogan has already called "unacceptable" and "a dream."
The preliminary budget totals $271.5 million, about $6.2 million more than the present budget. But the package does not include any cost-of-living increases for 13,847 school employes. Last year, under the old contracts, now being renegotiated, cost-of-living increases added over $12 million to the budget.
School officials said yesterday that no additional services have been added to the new budget without dollar-for-dollar reductions elsewhere, and that $8.8 million in increases in the budget were forced by inflation, salary advancements and cost of complying with new state and federal regulations for the handicapped.
The county, said budget director Frank Platt, would not have to pay for all of the increases in theschool budget because state and federal funds to county schools are expected to rise by $7.6 million next year.
In addition, Platt said, the school board will cut the budget next spring if it votes to close any of the approximately 80 schools now being studied by community task forces. Each school that is closed will save the board about $100,000, Platt said.
But Hogan, who has the authority along with the County Council to set the total dollar limit for school funding, has already said he will not approve a larce school spending inrease until the school board agrees to merge its computer, design and some health services with the county.
And the leaders of the three unions whose contracts with the board will expire June 30 have already said they are anticipating new agreements that will allow their members cost-of-living increases at least equal to those of last year-or 7 to 9 percent.
"You're going to see a lot of fascinating things go on in this budget cycle," Platt said.
In all, 184 staff positions will be eliminated next year under the current budget plan, including 165 teachers and 12 school staffers, for a total savings of $2.7 million, Platt said.
Teachers can be eliminated without enlarging class sizes because of declining enrollment, Platt said. He also said that because about 400 of the county's 7,000 teachers leave each year, no staff will be fired.
Platt said, however, that the school district had abandoned a plan to transfer teachers from schools with declining enrollment to other schools to reduce class sizes, although many teachers were reassigned in that way last year.
The budget guidelines limit spending for travel and office supplies to below this year's levels, with no allowance for inflation, saving $35,000, Platt said. In addition, the purchasing department has been given an additional 6 percent inflation allowance, although books and other school materials are inflating at the rate of about 10 percent a year.
A number of budget increases palnned for next year are unavoidable, Platt said.
Even though school planners hope to keep utility bills within a 4.5 percent rate of inflation, utility costs are expected to rise by $500,000. In addition, because of new state and federal requirements for facilities for the handicapped, the county will have to spend $750,000 for 34 new teachers, 22 classroom aides, 14 bus drivers and 12 bus aides.