The new Prince George's County executive's suggestion that the school system merge its computers with those of the county is impractical and would be more expensive than the current separate computer operations, school officials told the county school board last night.
County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan has said several times that he will refuse to accept large increases in the school board's budget this year unless the schools agreed to merge their computer systems and health services with those of the county, eliminating what he believes are duplications of services.
Roy DuCharn, director of the school system's computer services, told the board last night, "One of the things that needs to be said is that if we do go to consolidation the cost is going to be significantly more than it is today.
"There will be great logistical problems," DuCharn said. "The personnel required and the equipment required to transfer the information back and forth would end up consting us more money, and I'm sure a feasibility study would prove that."
As part of a new policy of devoting half its meetings to reviewing current programs, the school board, apparently responding to Hogan's challenge, spent more than two hours last night listening to a detailed summary of the schools' computer services.
Staff member after staff member told the board that the schools would be unable to manage their current operations without their computer systems. DuCharn and other officials said they were worried that the school staff would be unable to use computer services enough if they had to share them with the county and that the confidentiality of student records required by federal statutes might be endangered if the systems were merged.
Most board members seemed to agree with DuCharn, but there were negative notes. Horace J. Hillsman, a computer systems consultant representing a group called the Prince George's Citizens Concern for a Better County, told the board to "stop wasting money" and "stop squabbling over who controls equipment."
"Everybody wants their own computer," Hillsman said. "But a computer is not a toy. We need to centralize our computerdata services."
And board member Angelo Castelli remarked sarcastically, "Perhaps somebody can push the right button on the computers and tell us why our kids are scoring below standard on test scores."