Assistant Principal Stephen Arnold is a busy man.
Within network of administrators, he is a spokesman, a disciplinary and a hallway traffic herdsman—among other responsibilities.
But recently, he worked with Principal George Roberts in a different capacity: Eliminating 18 faculty positions to comply with next year's budget reductions.
Positions from every department in the school were cut, Arnold said. Teachers were informed more than a month ago if they would continue working at Perry Hall High School.
"Of course, it was information they didn't want to hear," he said. "It was handled in a gentle, private manner."
Arnold emphasized that everyone, with the exception of retirees, was still guaranteed a job. Teachers will have the opportunity to transfer elsewhere in the county, he said.
The Baltimore County school board’s $1.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2012 is expected to leave 196 teaching positions vacant. But Superintendent Joe A. Hairston has stressed there will be no teaching layoffs; vacancies will come through attrition, ranging from retirements to those leaving the system for other jobs.
Perry Hall High School is the largest high school in the county, with 2,200 students. An enrollment report released in September stated that the school's population is nearly 6 percent over capacity. This year, the school has 165 administrators, counselors and teachers. Arnold said he knows of at least five teachers who plan on retiring in June.
Faculty reductions will inevitably lead to larger class sizes, said Arnold, but it's too early to gauge the increase. He said sizes also vary depending on the class subject. An Advanced Placement course may have just a handful of students, while a music class may have dozens, Arnold added.
Based on projected staffing numbers, Cheryl Bost, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, she expects the average class size across the county to rise from 26 to 29 students.
"Schools are going to have to deal with a dramatic increase in class sizes," Bost said.
She added that she disagrees with the county's budget-cutting approach. "All of the proposed cuts are coming from teachers, not administrators, and that is an unbalanced approach to dealing with the budget," she said.
TABCO officials also projected a reduction in Advanced Placement courses as result of budget cuts.
Baltimore County Public Schools spokesman Charles Herndon wrote in a recent email, "Advanced Placement courses will remain a priority for the school system."
This is certainly true for Perry Hall High School, Arnold said. The school will offer 20 Advanced Placement courses next year, one more than last year. Topics range from art history to human geography.
But other elective classes will be cut, said Arnold, depending on next year's student enrollment and course selection. These changes have yet to be finalized, he said.
Essex-Middle River Patch Editor Ron Snyder contributed to this report.