UPPER MARLBORO – For the third year in a row, Prince George’s County Public Schools’ (PGCPS) chief executive officer (CEO) has proposed a school system budget of more than $2 billion. The announcement from Kevin Maxwell came during his fiscal year 2019 budget presentation on Dec. 14 where the schools’ leader touted the work PGCPS […]
UPPER MARLBORO – For the third year in a row, Prince George’s County Public Schools’ (PGCPS) chief executive officer (CEO) has proposed a school system budget of more than $2 billion.
The announcement from Kevin Maxwell came during his fiscal year 2019 budget presentation on Dec. 14 where the schools’ leader touted the work PGCPS has accomplished over the past year and noted where more improvement, and more funding, is needed.
Maxwell’s specific proposal is for $2.106 billion, which is a 6.7 percent increase ($131.5 million) over the amount awarded to the school system last year when the county council approved just $1.97 billion of the $2.05 billion proposal.
“The mission of Prince George’s County Public School is to provide a great education that empowers all students and contributes to thriving communities. Our singular goal, as stated in our strategic plan, is to support outstanding academic achievement for all students,” Maxwell said. “In developing the fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, we have chosen to make significant investments in new and existing innovative programs while collaborating with our community partners.”
To pay for this proposal, Maxwell said the county council would have to approve nearly $116 more in funding for the school system at a total of $855 million. Last year the county approved $739 million.
On the state side, more than $27 million in additional funding is proposed. Maxwell is asking for a total of $1.14 billion from the state. Last year $1.11 billion was approved. Board sources and federal revenue are both projected to rise slightly as well to bring in an additional $10.4 million.
“The proposed budget invests an additional $131.5 million in the five pillars of our strategic plan: academic excellence, high-performing workforce, safe and supportive environments, family and community engagement, and organizational effectiveness,” he said. “The operating budget also addresses the growing demands that come with an increasing enrollment.”
Maxwell said there are major factors playing a roll in the increased ask this year. The school system is in its fifth-straight year of enrollment growth and has expanded to by approximately 2,100 students during just this past year. PGCPS’ population now stands at 132,000.
With increased enrollment come increased costs. PGCPS’ mandatory costs, such as employee salaries and benefits, are negotiated to rise and will take up approximately 82 percent of the budget or roughly $1.31 million. Contracted services are estimated around $207 million while supplies and materials come in around $39 million. “Other costs” are listed at $112 million and equipment is estimated at $13.4 million.
However, beyond mandatory costs Maxwell also hopes to expand several programs system wide.
“This $2.1 billion budget proposal seeks to balance our mandatory and fixed costs with program continuations, expansions and investments. We are focused on areas of greatest need and areas with the highest potential for future success,” he said. “This budget also addresses the challenges we face and positions us to take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.”
Main areas of future investments include further expansion of language immersion, arts integrations, dual enrollment and multiple pathways to success programs. The budget proposal also looks to expand all-day prekindergarten from 3,100 seats to 3,298 through $994,000.
The CEO said he wants to set aside $1.5 million the budget to initiate a community schools model. The funds would go toward a “full scale model” with best practices from school districts across the country. The model would build on work from the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative to provide communities and families with needed resources in their area.
The budget proposal also appropriates $44.2 million in additional fund to the area of “academic excellence,” which includes healthy start breakfast, pre-k, community schools and student based budgeting.
In the area of “high performing workforce” Maxwell has proposed $66.5 million in additional funds. Key areas of investment there include additional money for peer assistance and review teachers, cultural training and funds for negotiated contracts.
“We will also invest in our people,” Maxwell said. “I’m pleased to propose a budget that includes funds for negotiated agreements that are already settled. The proposed budget fully funds the new (contracts).”
Additional funds are also proposed for “safe and supportive environments” ($18.7 million), “family and community engagement” ($1.1 million) and “organizational effectiveness” ($1 million).
Additionally, Maxwell noted that approximately $14 million would be set aside for charter schools this year. Of that roughly half will be appropriated to the expansion of charters in the county, said Christian Rhodes, the chief of strategic and external affairs at PGCPS.
The other portion of the charter school proposed budget item is a placeholder, Rhodes said, to ensure the school system is not blindsided by impacts of a recent court decision in Frederick County.
“It ultimately required the school district to provide equal per pupil funding for charter schools as they do for the traditional public schools. That funding normally backs out transportation costs – this requires the school district to provide the same equal funding, including transportation costs, for the charter schools,” Rhodes said.
Throughout the course of the next several months, the county board of education will dig deep into the proposed budget and decide if it reflects the board’s and the community’s priorities and desires.
Public listening sessions on the budget will begin in January with the first session held at Laurel High School on Jan. 23. The next is at Central High School on Jan. 30 with the final held on Feb. 6 at Oxon Hill High School. For each meeting a budget work session will be held at 5 p.m., followed by a public hearing at 7 p.m.
After the board approves a proposed budget, it will send it to the county executive for consideration to include in his annual county budget proposal.
“The county executive will take our budget into consideration, along with the other budgets. He will submit a full budget to the county council. The county council will then determine the final budget for the entire county,” said Segun Eubanks, chair of the board of education.