The Prince George's County Council voted this week to slash $4.1 million from the county schools' proposed budget for fiscal 1980.
Under the council-approved $287.1 million budget, the school board will not be forced to close any schools during the 1980-81 school year, but will have to make other reductions in spending.
The council's proposals differed substantially from those of County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, who recommended that the school budget be cut by $6.3 million and that 14 schools be closed.
Hogan also recommended the elimination of several programs, including Junior ROTC, environmental education courses at Camp Schmidt, and an alcoholics referral program for school employes. The council restored funds for all three programs.
While the council decides the size of the budget and makes recommendations on where savings should be made, the school board has considerable flexibility in determining where the final cuts will be. b
The council told the school board that $300,000 could be saved through "salary lapses," which come about when vacant positions remain unfilled temporarily.
The council also suggested that the school save $570,000 by reducing payments to employe health insurance and terminal-leave funds.Another $340,000 was pared from the budget by lowering allowances for plant maintenance and part-time salaries.
A $2.3 million savings will be brought about during the coming school year by a change in state requirements for replacement of school buses.
The County Council also slashed $467,000 in funds for vocational education from the school budget, urging the board to use newly authorized state money to fund the present vocational education programs. However, school officials have pointed out that they will not be able to substitute state funds for county because the state legislation making the money available would not allow such action.
School board reaction to the council's recommendations was mixed, with members on the one hand saying they are grateful the council did not make more drastic cuts, and on the other, criticizing it for trimming what they see as a bare-bones budget.
"I think the council did a pretty good job this year, but quite honestly I don't know where we're going to get this extra money from," said school board chairman JoAnn Bell. "The board has already done enough squeezing here and patching there this year. We're fast reaching a point where it's hard for us to fund some of the things that others fund as a matter of course."
Bell and school board member Doris Eugene both predicted problems.
"We may not be able to get the state to come in and help bail us out next year," said Eugene, referring to the extra state aid the schools received this year. "People in other parts of the state are going to say 'don't come to us, you did it to yourselves. We didn't pass TRIM.'"