UPPER MARLBORO – School system Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell implemented a spending and hiring freeze Thursday effective immediately after proposing a $1.8 billion operating budget for 2016 to the Board of Education. “As a precautionary measure, there will be a freeze of discretionary spending and vacant positions,” Maxwell said. “The discretionary spending freeze will […]
UPPER MARLBORO – School system Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell implemented a spending and hiring freeze Thursday effective immediately after proposing a $1.8 billion operating budget for 2016 to the Board of Education.
“As a precautionary measure, there will be a freeze of discretionary spending and vacant positions,” Maxwell said. “The discretionary spending freeze will help us save money this fiscal year.”
As a result of the hiring freeze, class sizes may rise, he said.
The county faces a $59 million deficit. At the state level, Maxwell said he has concerns about less funding from the state’s Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI). The GCEI index is a formula he state uses distributes money to school districts, taking into account differences in the cost of education that are outside the control of local jurisdictions.
“We did not anticipate county or state shortfalls,” Maxwell said. “I’m not concerned that this is a long-term issue. I don’t have anxiety over that. We will scrutinize every request for spending.”
Maxwell said a team consisting of Chief Operating Officer Monica Goldson, Deputy Superintendent Monique Davis and Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Shawn Joseph will review spending requests. The school system will also review its employee benefits program.
Maxwell’s proposed $1.839 billion operating budget is a 2.5 percent increase from this year’s $1.795 billion budget. His budget also calls for an 8.4 percent increase in county funding and a 3.36 percent increase in state funding from last year.
“I have presented a proposal that encompasses our goals, while recognizing that certain fiscal uncertainties exist,” said Maxwell.
School Board Chairman Segun Eubanks called Maxwell’s proposed budget “ambitious” and said he looks forward to seeing the process move along.
“The Board is committed to a thorough process of deliberation and public input that will ensure a budget that supports this vision of greatness,” Eubanks said. “We share Dr. Maxwell’s goals to attract and retain high-quality personnel through competitive compensation. We also will ensure that all of our students have access to a quality education from pre-K to graduation.”
During his presentation, Maxwell called on the county executive and county council to fulfill his proposed $683.73 million request from the county.
“We cannot build a world class school system with a below average investment,” Maxwell said.
“The PGCPS FY 16 Budget proposal appears prudent and pragmatic,” said County Executive Rushern Baker III. “This budget appears to fund priorities and invests in programs that will attract families to PGCPS.”
The proposed budget expands certain academic programs. Maxwell recommends allocating $40.15 million for expansion of creative and performing arts programs as well as the Montessori program. Some of the funding will also expand the school system’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs and help expand language immersion programs while also implementing more information technology in high schools and an additional five reading specialists.
Maxwell also recommended providing funding for two international schools targeted toward high school English-language learners, eight additional full-day pre-k programs, a Saturday school for 300 students and increased focus on literacy for special education students.
The additional pre-k programs will bring the county’s total pre-k program count to 27, Maxwell said. The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded Prince George’s County, as well as 17 other counties in the state, a federal grant to expand pre-k programs. The department has not yet released a grant breakdown per county.
However, there are several programs that will not be expanded for next year. The following programs will continue to be in place, but will not expand for next year: additional mentor teachers, the Peer Assistance and Review program, which dedicates experienced teachers to evaluating and mentoring novice teachers, parent liaisons, arts integrations into schools and secondary school reform programs.
The budget also proposes $39.34 million for a “highly performing workforce.” Under this category, about half a million dollars will go towards training schools and the central office to address the cultural and language diversity within the county, Maxwell said.
Maxwell also recommends allocating $37.37 million for “mandatory costs,” $3.03 million for “safe and supportive environments” and about $43.95 million allocated for “unrestricted operating budget change,” according to the proposed budget.
The school system will conduct three public hearings for the proposed operating budget in January and February. The school board and county council will finalize the 2016 operating budget by July 2015.