Acting D.C. School Superintendent James T. Guines said yesterday that a projected $22-million deficit in next year's school budget could force officials to dismiss nearly 800 teachers, furlough all school employes without pay for up to a month or sharply cut various educational programs.
In addition, school officials said they intend to furlough all school employes for five days to make up part of a projected $6.2-million deficit in the current budget year that ends Oct. 1. The workers will probably be furloughed on three days in June after school has ended and two days in September before school begins again. Under the furlough, all employes will lose five days' pay, a savings of $5 million.
Guines said that under one plan to offset the projected deficit for 1981-1982, all prekindergarten and adult education programs would be eliminated and under other cutback proposals industrial arts and economic classes would be curtailed and the school system's five regional offices closed.
Guines' announcement yesterday appeared to be timed to put maximum pressure on the Senate subcommittee which oversees the D.C. budget because it is holding a hearing on the school budget on Tuesday. The City Council approved a $248-million budget for the next school year, $22 million less than school officials say is needed and $27 million less than the current budget. Guines said he is hoping that Congress will restore some funds to the school budget.
He said that anything less than the $270-million budget would constitute "fiscal child abuse."
"I am not crying wolf," Guines stressed at a press conference, which as attended by some of the principals, regional superintendents and administrators whose jobs could be affected by the cuts. "We have gone from fat to lean and not it is a matter of which bones we want to pull off" he said of the school system's funding.
Guines said that in addition to the projected $22-million deficit, the school system has yet to consider what programs or jobs might have to be cut to offset an anticipated $14-million reduction in federal aid, due to President Reagan's proposed cutbacks of federal educational aid.
This is the second year school officials have had to press Congress to increase school funding that was reduced by Mayor Marion Barry and the City Council. Last year, the school board laif off 700 teachers and eliminated some adult education programs to reduce a would-be $27-million deficit. The system later rehired about 300 teachers on a temporary basis at lower salaries.
The mayor, a former school board president, has argued that the schools need less money because their enrollment is dropping. This year, school enrollment totaled 100,049. The projected enrollment for next year is 95,200.
Acting Associate Superintendent for Management Services Shelton E. Lee said the school system's budget officers took into consideration the projected decline in enrollment when drawing up the proposals for laying off teachers. Teacher salaries account for 88 percent of the D.C. school budget.
Washington Teachers Union President William H. Simons said the union is opposed to a furlough this June and has asked the school board to postpone such a move until September. Simons said, however, that he believes the teachers would be willing to accept furloughs of teachers if it means that jobs can be saved.
"I think we should open schools in September, go until the money runs out and then simply stop. That would demonstrate to the community the need for full financing." Simons said.
Lee's office has presented the school board with five options for offsetting the projected $22-million deficit. The most drastic of all options would be to simply cut teachers. Other proposals call for deep cuts in the number of school system administrators, returning some midlevel administrators back to classroom teaching and combining the administrative staffs of 11 schools with enrollments of less than 300 pupils.
Guines said the school board might also have to reduce the required total of 180 days that D.C. students are now required to attend school so that employes could be furloughed at the beginning and end of the school year.
Even if classroom teachers are cut, the pupil-teacher ratio of 28 to 1 in the elementary and senior high schools and 27 to 1 in junior high schools would be kept the same, according to R. Calvin Lockridge, chairman of the school board's finance committee. However, these ratios count counselors and other administrators as teachers. The actual ratios, counting only teachers, in many elementary and senior high schools are often 34 to 1 and in junior highs 33 to 1, Lockridge said.
He said he does not think the board will cover the deficit by only cutting teachers. He said he thought the actual number of teacher layoffs might total 400.