Baltimore County school board on budget details
The Baltimore County school board’s work session last night focused a lot on the details in the $1.32 billion proposal for the 2010 fiscal year, as I noted in today’s story. Their interest in the small stuff reflected their awareness of tight financial times – and the limited funds at their discretion.
Member Meg O’Hare, in particular, observed that while the budget isn’t normally her forte, she’d made a point of examining it more closely this time around. She wanted to make sure that money was going toward things that have been proven to work – especially when it came to money allocated to elementary-school language arts. Many of her questions were about reading:
O’Hare wanted to know how many schools would be getting the 100 Book Challenge, a reading program introduced a few years ago that has since expanded to more than 20 elementary schools and that I wrote about in a story last week. 100 Book promotes independent reading among children, encouraging them to choose fiction and non-fiction books of interest that are written at their individual reading levels.
O’Hare questioned why only 13 additional schools – out of the district’s more than 130 – were getting the program next year. She also asked how many schools had requested it.
School officials said their ability to expand the program to more schools would very much depend on the available funding once the budget is approved. Barbara Burnopp, the chief financial officer, said 30 schools had expressed interest in getting 100 Book.
"Reading, comprehending and writing are the foundation for critical thought…I don’t want to wait for 100 years for this to get implemented," O’Hare said. "When we have something that works, it seems it’s a good idea to put the little bit of money that we have" into that.