Howard County school officials yesterday determined the order in which schools will get stadium lights, but said they are still about $200,000 short of the approximately $1.05 million needed to install the lights.

Using a lottery system in which Ping-Pong balls were pulled from a jug, Mount Hebron, Long Reach and Atholton were selected to have lights installed by Sept. 1. Oakland Mills and River Hill will have them in place by Oct. 1. Six other high schools will have lights by Jan. 1 and a school scheduled to open for the 2005-06 school year will have them by opening day.

"Equity was a major role in getting the lights approved, and if we don't have all the money raised, we might have to wait to use them," Don Disney, Howard County's coordinator of athletics, said. "But that's something we don't anticipate having to do."

Doug Hostetler, head of the stadium lights committee, said the committee reached its goal of raising $850,000 by June 1, but the costs were higher than expected. Lighting Maintenance Inc. of Rockville was awarded the contract with a bid of $1.049 million. There is also a design fee of $64,500, but school officials said the Board of Education would fund that portion of the project if necessary. The project has been funded so far by donations from companies, parents and students.

"We met one goal by June 1, and I'm confident we're going to have the rest of the money raised by September 1 so that everything can proceed as planned," Hostetler said.

Coaches Ponder Futures

More than 50 percent of Howard County high school fall sports coaches have signed contracts to continue their positions, according to Disney. There had been concern that some coaches might not return because of a growing perception that coaches could lose their teaching jobs if a problem developed related to their sport.

During the past year, one coach was removed from his teaching job over his alleged role in an improper grade change on a player's transcript. Another coach lost her coaching position because of allegations that several players were drinking during a team-sponsored event off-campus.

Disney said that all schools submitted a list of returning coaches by yesterday's deadline. The lists were of people who intend to coach this fall. Coaches have until June 28 to sign contracts, after which positions will be filled with new coaches. Disney said 50 to 60 percent of the coaches already had signed contracts.

"We're not trying to strong-arm anybody -- we want them all to come back," Disney said. "But we also need to know which positions we need to get filled."