More than 150 taxpayers, some wearing construction-paper badges and others handing out typewritten statements, asked the Montgomery County Council last night to rearrange the county's proposed $103 billion, six-year building plan to provide more money for schools.
Almost all of the 31 speakers asked the council to add millions to the $162 million County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist has proposed to build and renovate schools through 1991. Much of the appeal, which the council will consider when it votes on its final budget May 15, was based on the fact that enrollment has increased, particularly in northern Montgomery County.
"Every child that comes in makes an impact on every school," said Ronald Wohl, a vice president of the Area 3 Montgomery County Council of PTAs. "All children need to have adequate schools. All communities need stability."
Earlier this month, Gilchrist recommended that the county approve a building and renovation program that would fall far short of what the Board of Education had requested. Although Gilchrist recommended that the schools receive $162 million, the school board had asked for $86 million more.
Among the cuts was money for a new vocational school and two new elementary schools, and Gilchrist called for delaying the construction of one of two high schools to be built near Gaithersburg.
Last night, David Lynch, president of the Gaitherburg Junior High School PTA, said: "We are not requesting two high schools in an irresponsible manner. We need them so we can have a seat for every student."
Montgomery County schools had been experiencing a drop in student enrollment since the 1970s. Last September that decline appeared to hit bottom when school officials found about 91,000 students enrolled -- about 800 more than expected.
That trend is expected to continue for 15 years, say school analysts who have linked the enrollment increase to higher birthrates and a housing boom. By 1990, student enrollment is expected to reach 103,000.
Another public hearing to discuss the capital budget will be held Thursday in the council auditorium in Rockville.
At school headquarters in Rockville last night, about 40 parents turned up to tell the Board of Education their thoughts on Superintendent Wilmer S. Cody's proposed $434.4 million operating budget. Most complained that class sizes were too large but generally approved the budget plans.
The proposed operating budget calls for 8.6 percent more spending than in this fiscal year. Cody, who called his budget "intentionally conservative," said that only $4 million of the increase was for program improvements. The rest was to maintain current programs for an increasing enrollment and to pay employe pay raises negotiated last year.
Further hearings on the operating budget proposal are scheduled for today and Thursday.
The operating budget must be approved by the school board and both the operating and capital spending plan must be approved by the County Council.