The Howard County Board of Education took the following actions at its Oct. 11 meeting. For more information, call 992-0500.
CAPITAL BUDGET -- The board voted 5 to 0 to approve a $35.7 million fiscal 1992 capital budget that includes funding for the construction or design of nine new schools, including a new high school in the western part of the county, to accommodate a growing student population.
Under the long-range five-year construction program, the school system expects to spend an additional $210.9 million to complete the nine schools and to build an additional high school and two more elementary schools.
The board added $1.7 million to School Superintendent Michael Hickey's original request of $34 million for the 1992 capital budget. The extra money would be spent on maintenance and minor renovation of older buildings owned by the school system, school spokesperson Patti Vierkant said. In recent years, the cost of building new schools has resulted in less money being spent on the upkeep of older buildings, Vierkant said.
Two schools in the planning stages account for more than half of the money the schools will request from the county for fiscal 1992: a new $11 million western county middle school near Clarksville and a new $7.4 million elementary school in the northeast part of the county. Both projects are scheduled to be completed by 1993.
Hickey's budget also includes $490,000 to buy six portable classrooms for county elementary schools and $335,000 to begin design and construction of a $5.3 million center in the Patuxent Valley area with classrooms and labs for teaching environmental science.
Hickey said his requests are based on projections of climbing student enrollment in the next five years. The schools' projected enrollment of 30,234 this September is expected to exceed 37,000 in 1995. Surging elementary school enrollment will account for about half of that gain, school projections show.
The board is scheduled to submit a final budget request to the County Council in March.
DISCRIMINATION PENALTIES -- At a public hearing on a proposal to adopt a tougher human relations policy, several representatives of gay rights organizations urged the board to ban discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation.
Such language is needed in light of incidents of verbal and physical attacks on gay students at colleges and schools, members of the gay student union at the University of Maryland and several other gay rights advocates told the board.
The proposal, introduced last month, would allow school officials to fire teachers or other school staffers found to have discriminated against students.
The proposed policy, drafted by a committee of residents and school staff, also would permit school officials to reprimand or suspend students or staff members found guilty of insensitive or degrading behavior toward others.
According to the proposed policy, "verbal and nonverbal behavior which offends or degrades students or staff . . . . " should be considered misconduct. Alleged offenses would be reported to school supervisors and the school system's director of human relations.
School Superintendent Michael Hickey said school officials want to toughen the schools' human relations policy, enacted in 1980, because they are concerned about growing "insensitivity" toward others in society as well as local schools.
The board is scheduled to vote on the new policy Oct. 25.