Budget restrictions impact Blair clubs and activities

March 13, 2003, midnight | By Han Hu | 18 years, 3 months ago

New textbooks and equipment will suffer consequences of a growing county population

Economic concerns caused MCPS to impose further budget restrictions on Feb 10, including freezing school funds and cutting stipends for after-school programs for the remainder of the school year.

The new budget restrictions will terminate funding by Apr 11 for "local school Class 1 activities," which, according to Assistant Principal Linda Wanner, include almost all of Blair's after-school clubs (see planbook for a full list of Blair activities). The exceptions are bands, plays, Chamber and Show Choirs, chorus, SGA, Silver Chips, Silver Quill and the Debate, Forensics, It's Academic! and Mock Trial teams.

Despite the termination of funding for many of Blair's clubs, Wanner believes the clubs will likely continue to function because teachers are usually willing to sponsor them even without pay.

In the past, said Wanner, Blair received a stipend from the Board of Education (BOE) every year to pay teachers $12.75 per hour for working on Class 1 activities. However, that stipend was not enough to pay all the teacher sponsors, so Blair's administration had to rotate which sponsors received payment from year to year.

The new budget restrictions are part of MCPS' ongoing effort to remain within the budget for the current school year, according to Marshall Spatz, head of MCPS' budget department. The county's economic outlook is "troubled," said Spatz, who nonetheless predicts MCPS will be able to stay within its budget.

However, the county's economic woes may have a large impact on next year's budget. According to Spatz, the BOE requested a $68-million increase in local funding for the next school year, but the County Council is offering only $22 million. "There's a big gap between what the county says it can afford and what the schools are going to need next year. It's a huge problem," he said, adding that talks between the BOE and the County Council are currently underway.

The two main reasons for MCPS' need for increased funding are the growth in student enrollment, which is projected to increase by 2,000 students, and rising wages, salaries and employee benefits for MCPS staff, said Spatz.

The budget restrictions do not reduce funding for Blair's Science, Math and Computer Science Magnet Program, according to Magnet Coordinator Eileen Steinkraus. "To my knowledge, there have been no cuts made. The message I keep getting is ‘same services,'" she said.

Other stipulations of the restrictions include freezing funds for textbook purchases and restricting the repair of instructional equipment to an "as-needed basis," according to an MCPS press release.

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Han Hu. Han Hu, a senior in Blair's Magnet program, is very excited to serve as Managing News Editor on the Silver Chips staff. Aside from Chips, he is also a member of Blair's mock trial team, where he enjoys delivering cases at the county courthouse before … More »

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