Prince George's County School Board Chairman Jessie J. Warr Jr. said yesterday the school board will not aid the County Council by pinpointing programs that can be cut in its proposed $245 million budget.
"We have already submitted an honest budget," said Warr in response to a request, made yesterday, by the County Council. "The Council must decide where the cuts will be made."
Warr's statements followed a request by the Council that the school board re-examine its budget and come back with a list of proposals to cut school programs. The list would enable the Council members, who are still weighing the budget proposal, to have a "better picture" before deciding whether to cut back raises proposed for teachers, they contended.
The Council, which is trying to cut $3 million from the budget proposal, had been considering cutting back the 6.8 per cent cost of living wage increase for county teachers provided for in the school's budget.
The County, according to Council member Francis B. Francois, is in the "dilemma of going down to the wire without knowing how it is going to pay the costs of the budget."
The Council is scheduled to make its final decision on the budget May 13. The county could receive additional revenue to ease its fiscal crunch should the governor sign into law a home rule taxing authority. But before the Council can take that authority into consideration, it must become law prior to May 13.
The fact that the Council does not yet have the county executive's revised budget revenue plan in front of it, poses a particularly difficult problem when it comes to the school board budget, Council members say.
The problem is that the school system will not be getting the $3.5 million that the county executive projected the system would receive from the state. As a result, the County Council is trying to balance the deficit school budget without raising the county property tax rate. In fact, Francois said, "We are trying to reduce the tax rate."
School officials fear that any budget cut could result in substantive cuts in educational programs or - should the full 3 million be cut - the loss of up to 250 teachers.
When the Council officially takes up the issues of cutting the cost of living increases for teachers during its final vote, the Council members can expert a lot of company.
"We will pack the Council Chambers," promised Toby Rich, president of the county teacher's union.