Prince George's County School Superintendent Edward J. Feeney last night proposed a $317.5 million budget for his schools next year--$11.2 million more than last year. Feeney called it an "outline of basic necessities."
The budget made no provision for a cost-of-living increase for the county's 6,000 teachers, because negotiations between the Prince George's County Educators Association and the school board will not begin until January.
Although the budget calls for the elimination of 358 staff positions, including 95 teachers, Feeney said they could be handled by attrition. He said the reductions are "consistent" with the continuing decline in enrollment.
In asking for a 3.6 percent increase, compared with the 9 percent rise Feeney sought one year ago, the superintendent said he recognized that "we do know the realities of life." The reality is that although both budgets were described as "hold even" budgets, last year's request was not fundable under the TRIM- limited county budget and this year's may also be cut for lack of funds.
"This year we are facing the hard reality," said school board member Bonnie Johns. "The words we've heard from the CAB County Administration Building is that the money just is not there."
The nine-member school board will review and possibly adjust the budget before it is transmitted to County Executive Parris Glendening. Last year, despite a warning from then-county executive Lawrence J. Hogan that the school budget could not be funded, the board did not move to cut the request before forwarding it. Johns said that she would not move to fit this year's request to current revenue projections before sending it to the county executive.
"We've got to have it," said Johns. "I just don't know what to trim."
This year the schools ended up with $2 million less than last year, and more than 500 teachers were laid off last summer. Only 124 have been recalled.
Feeney's proposed budget reinstates funds for books and for 125 specific maintenance and repair projects delayed this year because of insufficient funds.
His budget would require the county government to pay almost 10 percent more than this year because of decreased revenues from state, federal and other sources.