At Roger B. Taney Middle School, a highly integrated school in middle-class Temple Hills, Principal Mary Cunningham said parents have stepped in to provide some of what the school system no longer does.
Cunningham noticed the cutbacks largely in materials. With no money in the budget for new library or textbooks, the PTA took up the challenge.
When enrollment rose from 425 to 576 with transfers, the school system sent in six additional teachers, but PTA funds supplied a new set of algebra books. PTA funds, which in the past went for such amenities as a microwave oven for the teachers' lounge and a color television, also purchased home economics and science books, and $500 worth of team-teaching supplies.
"The parents are very anxious to support something that is going to benefit their child," said Marjorie Ledford, who was president of the PTA last year.
Cunningham worries that parents will not be able to provide such funds indefinitely, but for the moment the school takes full advantage of their support.
With what was left over from textbook purchases this year, Cunningham bought two desk-top computers for use in math classes.
"I waited until the county bought a lot to get a cheaper price and to make sure they had gotten good ones," she said. "I also waited until they had a little sale."
One result of cutbacks, and class sizes that averaged 32 and 33 last year, was that students in the talented and gifted program (TAG) did not receive as much instruction time as they had the previous year. But other students benefited, said Cunningham, because TAG enrichment materials were taught to entire classes.
"The regular classroom teacher now has to administer the additional work, but they non-TAG students want it. They're motivated to do the work, even if it takes them longer," she said.