The Prince George's County school board has approved a plan that could absorb millions of dollars in budget cuts by eliminating summer school and 100 teaching jobs and making major cutbacks in school sports, special education and other programs, sources said yesterday.
Although the board's plan makes potentially deep cuts in programs, it does not include the reduction sought most by County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan: decreasing the cost-of-living raises for the 13,000 school employes including teachers from five to three percent.
The board's proposed $281 million budget - which is $16 million higher than spending for the current school year-was reviewed at a closed board meeting Wednesday night. A list of $9 million in possible cuts was approved, sources said, and the first $6 million will be submitted to the County Council. The council had asked the board to show what services would be cut if the council, which has final authority to set spending totals, has to cut the school budget.
Although it is not uncommon for the council to request a list of possible cuts from the school board, the possibility that the board's plan for a $6 million to $9 million reduction will be implemented has been made real this year by TRIM, the voter-approved county charter amendment that limits tax revenues.
Hogan, who requested a similar list of cuts from the board two months ago only to be publicly and vehemently refused, has said that the board's budget should be cut by $13 million this year because of the fiscal squeeze caused by TRIM and the voters' mandate to cut costs.
The board's approval of a specific program-cutting plan represents the first time board members have abandoned their vigorous campaign in support of their total budget proposed and established priorities for possible cuts.
"If there is going to be surgery," said board member Bonnie F. Johns yesterday, "it is better that people know that these things are going to be part of the surgery."
Another board member, who opposed drawing up the cut list, said yesterday it amounted to "educational destruction by increments."
The $6 million list of cuts that will be delivered to the council contains at least $3.5 million of reductions suggested by Hogan. Another list of $3 million, which the board has not yet decided to submit, contains at least another $638,000 of Hogan's proposals.
Among the possible cuts on which Hogan and the board now have agreed is a reduction in an estimated 100 classroom teaching jobs. This would occur through an increase in class size from an average of 26.5 to 27.5 students, according to Hogan's figures.
In addition, the board agreed to reduced by $287,000 its original proposal for the talented and gifted propram; to cut $35,000 from a fund to replace buses; and to save $300,000 in health insurance and $44,000 in funds for teacher sabbaticals. These cuts also were suggested by Hogan.
The board went beyond Hogan's cut list and eliminated all summer school, for a savings of $300,000. The board also voted to cut $627,000 from special education programs for the mentally and physically handicapped.
According to two sources, at least one board member argued Wednesday night that special education programs should be cut because supporters of special education had not shown up in adequate force to support the board's original budget before the county council.
Also cut in the$6 million list was parent education, for $57,000; adult education, for 244,000; evening high school, for $387,000; and all organized junior high school sports, for $257,000.
Although school officials have maintained that $1 million was saved by the board's vote to close 10 schools last week, the board includes in its list a savings of only $872,000 for school closings. School officials refused to comment on the apparent discrepancy yesterday.
In the supplemental, $3-million list, which will be used if the county council cuts more than$6 million from the board's budget, two-thirds of elementary school vice-principals and all elementary school aides paid with county funds are eliminated, along with lay offs of administrators amounting to $714,000 in salaries.
The board also voted to cut $11,500 from high school athletics programs, and would agree with Hogan's proposals to cut janitorial services by $455,000 and home and hospital teaching programs by $32,000.
"It seems to me that [the board] has gone much deeper into educational programs than we did in order to pay their teacher 5 percent," said Ken Duncan, Hogan's chief administrative officer.
"They've sacrificed the livelihood of some of their employes in order to pay their teachers 2 percent more. I think the citizens would much prefer that the teachers have a 3 percent raise, as we have proposed."
"It's a painful, painful, thing," said board member Johns of the agreed cuts. "We started with the basic program with the basic 180 days and tried to protect that by eliminating programs that were not essential to that 180 days. But we couldn't even completely protect that basic program."
"As I voted, I treated every single item as if that was where the ax was eventually going to fall," said board member A. James Golato.
Golato said that he and other board members opposed the idea of submitting a cut list to the council. "The council should decide how much money we have, and then we should make cuts," he said. CAPTION: Picture, A. JAMES GOLATO . . . voting with an eye on the ax