Council Delays Extra Funding Pending School Budget Review

The Cambridge City Council last night refused to grant supplemental funding to the school system until city budget analysts comb the list of school expenditures to ensure the extra money is necessary.

The School Committee requested a supplemental appropriation of $919,000 last week to cover increased fuel costs, security expenditures (in the wake of a January stabbing death of a high school student) and other expenses.

Acting on the suggestion of Councilor Alfred E. Vellucci, council members sent the request to the council budget committee, where it will stay for two to three weeks until city budget specialists have finished scrutinizing the city budget.

"I want the budget department whiz-kids to look it over," Vellucci said. "When they certify that the money is needed, then I will pay for it," he added.

School officials reacted angrily to the delay and predicted that if the money is not gratned, the city's schools will be forced to make "massive layoffs."

"The later we get the news, the more severe the cuts will have to be if they turn us down," Glenn Koocher '72, a member of the school committee said last night.

"I've heard that cry of wolf--that people will be laid off--many times in the last 30 years sitting on this council." Vellucci said. "I don't think we should be blackjacked into voting for this at the first cry," Vellucci added.

Assistant Superintendent Oliver S. Brown told the committee school staffers would "cooperate in every way" with the city in its investigation of the school budget but pleaded for a quick completion of the study.

"If we're going to have to make up $900,000, the sooner we know about it the better," Brown said.

Besides security and fuel costs, Brown cited delays in the construction of the city's new high schools and increases in the cost of bilingual education and special needs programs as reasons for the cost overrun.

Council observers predicted the committee will approve $900,000 of the $919,000 request when it finally votes on the budget.

"I'm convinced the deficit is real and largely unavoidable, considering the last budget adopted by the committee," Councilor David Wylie said last night. "It's going to be a most difficult year for all of us, though," he added, saying, "We're all up against the wall."