The Prince George's County Council tentatively approved a school budget yesterday that is $10 million less than the Board of Education had requested but provides enough money to give teachers a 5 percent raise.
The approved budget totals $278 million. While nor school officials would predict exactly what programs will have to be cut back because of the budget reduction, it seems certain that yesterday's action will mean layoffs for scores of school employes.
In addition, a plan drawn up by school officials two weeks ago indicated that $9 million could be eliminated from the board's original request if major cuts were made in educational programs, including the elimination of summer school and adult education and a cutback in sports programs.
In voting to fund the 5 percent wage increase for the county's 6,700 teachers, the council rebuffed County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, who had sought to hold the raise to 3 percent.
According to county government officials, the teachers' contract is likely to set a trend for settlements with the five unions now negotiating contracts for other county employes. Last night Hogan called the council's actions "unfortunate," saying that funding a 5 percent raise will mean "A significant number of teachers will have to be fired."
The council-backed budget calls for cutting hundreds of positions and adding some others for a net reduction of 533 jobs. That includes a reduction of 455 teaching jobs, virtually assuring the layoff of scores of teachers. No school officials would make a firm prediction of how many layoffs would be necessary after the council takes its final action May 31.
The council's action was called "disastrous" by school board Chairman Norman H. Saunders and Board member Jo Ann Bell.
Unless the council finds a new source of revenue for the schools by the end of the month-considered highly unlikely-"the things that have to be cut are people and jobs," said Saunders.
School Superintendent Edward J. Feeney declined to comment, but his spokesman, John Aubuchon, said Feeney was "very concerned and worried about the budget's effect on school programs. The impact will be very severe," Aubuchon said.
The board requested a $288 million budget, including nearly $8 million in interest payments previously paid from other county funds. Hogan, reviewing the request, slashed it by $13 million. Yesterday's tentative action restored $2.9 million of this funding.
The council's version of the budget made across-the-board cuts in most areas of school activity-from maintenance services to educational services to bus drivers. Council members claimed that the trims are "fully consistent" with a projected 4.4 percent decline in enrollment and the board's recent decision to close 10 schools.
Hogan's objections to the council's action on the school budget underscored the conflict between the all-Democratic council and the Republican executive on spending priorities. Arguments over government spending have been particularly acute this year since voter approval of TRIM, the charter ammendment that sets a ceiling on county property tax collections.
After the council's action providing money for the 5 percent wage increase for teachers, Hogan predicted that if other county unions follow the teachers lead layoffs of other county employes could be required.
"Funding a 5 percent pay raise would be locking the county into an almost $15 million increase in expenses for fiscal year 1980," Hogan said.
Councilman Gerard T. McDonough portrayed the conflict between Hogan and the council as "policy differences."
"The county executive is taking (cuts) out of the hide of employes," McDonough said. "The council is saying . . . we want to start to return to basic county services - education, police, fire, the courts. We should (cut) from programs over and above basic needs."
In drawing up its recommended cuts yesterday, the council's staff emphasized that it was not cutting funds for any specific programs. It is up to the school board, they said, to decide exactly which programs could be eliminated or reduced.
What the council did instead was make cuts in budget categories, such as transportation and maintenance.
School officials declined to specify yesterday what cuts they would make to stay within the council's budget. However, the list of possible cuts the board recently drew up calls for elimination of summer school, parent education, adult education, evening high school and all organized junior high school sports.
The cutback list also called for reductions in special education programs, but all special education budget categories were fully funded by the council yesterday.
On hearing of the council's action, Toby Rich, president of the Prince George's County Educators Association which represents the county's teachers, said he was "extremely unhappy" with the budget cuts.