ANNAPOLIS, JAN. 11 -- Anne Arundel County School Superintendent Robert C. Rice tonight proposed a $282 million operating budget for the fiscal year beginning in July, an increase of 12.24 percent over current spending.
The budget would pay for 109 new classroom teachers and 24 teachers and aides for special- education programs. The school system has 64,000 students.
The budget does not include increased teacher salaries, which are being negotiated between the County Board of Education and the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, which represents the county's approximately 4,000 teachers.
The proposed new teaching positions are spread widely through the system.
They include 38 new elementary teachers, who Rice said are needed because of an expected increase in enrollment, and 16 teachers to reduce class sizes in schools with a large percentage of children in "at risk" groups, such as those from poor families.
Also, Rice asked the board for more money for evening high school and summer school, to help more adults and high school dropouts get their diplomas, and to pay special-education teachers to work in summer school.
Rice said those teachers would help the 120 to 140 special-education students who attend summer school succeed in the highly concentrated summer classes.
Also, he said he wants to hire four additional school psychologists and 11 counselors.
He said he hopes to find money in the school budget or the county Health Department budget to hire school nurses, who he said are needed because of increased concern with communicable diseases and increased requests for school services for homebound students.
Rice said one of his most important new proposals is to update the school computer system at an estimated cost of $25 million, which he suggested could be spread over several years. The school's main computer system is 20 years old, he complained, it cannot communicate with computers in other school buildings, and it cannot handle tasks such as preparing school schedules and working out bus routes.
He asked for money for a thorough asbestos inspection, to reorganize the school system's
groundskeeping department and to soundproof schools near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The budget proposal includes money for several studies, including one to examine the entire elementary school program and another to look at expanding the number of high school periods from six to seven a day.
Last year, teacher salaries proved to be by far the most controversial aspect of the budget. The school board approved an 8 percent raise, County Executive James Lighthizer reduced it to 5 percent, and the County Council increased it to 6 percent.
County teachers who complained that they are among the lowest-paid teachers in the Washington area protested by picketing and refusing to work beyond normal school hours in June and September.
School officials say they hope that a salary agreement can be reached before public budget hearings, which are scheduled for Feb. 3 and 9. A school board vote on the budget is scheduled for Feb. 24. Lighthizer is to make his budget recommendations May 1, and the County Council must approve a final budget by the end of June.
In recent years the county executive has cut the school's proposed budget and the council has restored some items.
The school system accounts for 57 percent of this year's county budget, which totals $480 million.