The Howard County PTA Council announced its opposition this week to an 8 percent salary increase proposed by the superintendent for about 50 central school administrators.
The council recommended instead that the school board limit salary increases for top-level managers to between 2 and 3 percent.
Last month, Superintendent Michael Hickey released what he described as a "hold-the-line" $133.7 million budget for fiscal 1989, which starts July 1. Hickey said most of the proposed $16.5 million increase would be used to honor an 8 percent salary increase for teachers, principals and assistant principals, which was negotiated in a contract last year. He asked for a matching raise for the central administrative staff.
Hickey said his proposed budget request, up 14.1 percent from last year, includes $511,000 for new programs, the smallest increase since he took over the Howard system.
The salary increase for the central staff administrators -- a group that includes the superintendent, his assistants, and budget and transportation officials being paid $40,000 to $81,500 -- sought by Hickey would cost the school system $700,000. Last year the school board and the county council approved an identical raise for those administrators.
Grace Kubofcik, chairwoman of the PTA council's budget committee, said the school system, faced with a tight budget next year, should spend less on management salaries and target more money toward textbooks, reducing the caseload for high school guidance counselors and improving school media centers.
The PTA council, which represents parents of Howard's 26,000 public school students, plans to present its recommendations to the School Board at the Jan. 21 public hearing on Hickey's proposed budget.
At Monday's meeting, Kubofcik said the PTA's budget recommendations are based largely on the results of a survey conducted last month of the group's members. Close to 1,700 parents responded to the survey, which listed as its top priorities maintaining class sizes and honoring the 8 percent teacher pay raise.
However, Kubofcik said the PTA budget committee also wants the school board to reshuffle parts of Hickey's budget proposal to increase spending on classroom instruction. Among the PTA's recommendations are:Increase funding for social issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse programs.
Restore drivers education classes after school and in summer school.
Increase spending for the staff development center.
Limit language art classes to 25 students and reduce class loads of English teachers to a maximum of 100 pupils.
Boost funding for new books, films and magazines for school media centers.
Reduce the caseload for high school guidance counselors from the current level of one counselor per 349 students.
The PTA also has recommended a $50,000 cut in the parochial school busing program. Last year, the school board discussed canceling the $246,000 program, which provides transportation for 590 students to four private schools. The board put any action on hold until the budgeting process is completed.
Kubofcik said the PTA supports the 8 percent salary increase for teachers and principals. In addition, the PTA plans to recommend an identical increase for custodians, secretaries and teacher aides, she said. School officials are scheduled to start negotiations soon with unions representing these employe groups.
However, Kubofcik said a proposed 8 percent increase for central school administrators is too generous. She said that some administrators already are receiving merit increases, which average 2.2 percent.
However, Darrell Drown, the school system's budget officer, said the teachers and others covered by the union contract automatically get an average of 2.2 percent raise as part of their annual step increases, which are given in addition to 8 percent salary raises.