Montgomery County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist yesterday outlined cuts totaling almost $6 million in the county school budget request for next year. At the same time, Gilchrist, in a memo to the County Council, said he supports development of additional computer-related classes and spending an additional $500,000 to keep open the popular Takoma Park Junior High School.
Gilchrist, who recommended a school budget totaling $367 million, pointed to broad categories where cuts could be made in the school board's $372.4 million request to bring it in line with the 3.9 percent increase Bilchrist has approved over last year's spending. That amount, he said, is sufficient to maintain the same quality of programs and fund the teachers' 5 percent cost-of-living raises.
The school budget is part of the overall county budget and must be approved by the County Council, which eventually gives the school board an overall budget figure; the board then decides whether to accept Gilchrist's recommendations for cuts or to make its own decisions about where to cut.
Gilchrist said his proposal, which is $3 million greater than the budget he proposed in December, should result in the loss of 214 jobs, but that that reduction will probably come through attrition. Among those positions are 40 secretarial positions and 45 teacher aide jobs.
The elimination of the aides was viewed as a blow yesterday by school board members who added those positions to their budget after Superintendent Edward Andrews earlier recommended that 40 of them be cut. The aides were described yesterday as a cornerstone in the new board majority's educational philosophy.
Board President Blair Ewing said: "This board is of the view that you cannot exclusively rely on classroom size, as the previous board did, to assure equity of education opportunity. Our teachers need supports of all kind if we are to meet the needs of an increasingly diversified population."
Among the types of aides that would be cut under Gilchrist's proposal are career and college counselors and library and multi-media assistants.
In addition to the money for Takoma Park Junior High School, Gilchrist also supported adding extra funds for Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. The two schools, both with the highest minority enrollments in the county at their grade level, were at the center of integration battles last year during the administration of the previous school board.
Last week the new board, whose majority was formed after last November's elections, voted to keep open Takoma Park Junior High rather than close it at the end of this school year as scheduled. Gilchrist said he would encourage the County Council to approve the estimated $544,000 needed to operate Takoma Park and include money for a seven-period day at Blair -- the only additional school for which he approved a seventh period this year. CAPTION:
Picture, CHARLES W. GILCHRIST . . . a loss of 214 jobs