UPPER MARLBORO — Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Interim CEO Monica Goldson has recently announced the investment of $2.4 million in savings due to the rearranging of central offices and appointing a new Chief Operating Officer.
Now that the school system has surpassed Goldson’s goal of $1 million in savings, the funds will go toward funding school supply reimbursements for teachers, professional development and air quality tests.
Of the $2.4 million, $800,000 will be allotted for teachers school supply reimbursement, said PGCPS Communications Officer Raven Hill.
Teachers will be able to apply for up to $100 in reimbursement starting at the end of the first quarter through December 21.
Additionally, $225,000 will be allotted for teachers’ tuition reimbursement, $225,000 will be for professional development for administrators and other supervisory personnel, $150,000 will go toward professional development for bus drivers to support staff and finally, $150,000 is to be used for custodial supplies to ensure school building readiness for teaching and learning.
“My goal was to provide a million-dollars in savings, but as I began to look at ways that we could streamline the efficiency of the central office and still provide support to schools, I was able to get a savings of $2.4 million,” Goldson said. “That’s a one-time savings, and so this opportunity here that we’re providing to focus on our classroom teachers and our support staff is from that savings. Because we’re able to save more than the amount we anticipated, I was able to reach out to all of our labor partners to make sure we could support them.”
One of the first things Goldson tackled after the beginning of her term as interim CEO was the reorganization of PGCPS central offices.
Back in July, she placed all central offices on a hiring freeze and started by eliminating two deputy superintendent positions as well as added Chief Accountability Officer, Chief of Special Education and Student Services and Chief of School Leadership and Support as new positions.
“Our community has spoken loudly about the need to give schools as many resources for teaching and learning as the system can support,” Goldson said at the time. “There are concerns about the size of our executive leadership team. My goal is to identify at least $1 million in position eliminations and reclassifications from this reorganization in order to improve school services.”
In the end, Hill said, 20 executive-level positions were eliminated system-wide, including the two Deputy Superintendent offices, the Ombudsman Office, the Office for Continuous Systemic Improvement and Executive Director positions.
They then went on to reorganize the Area Offices, Instructional Directors and Employee and Labor Relations Office as well to streamline the work and better align personnel with the requisite experience and expertise.
Further, the executive pay scale was consolidated to reduce potential compensation for chief-level positions to align the PGCPS salary structure with surrounding districts better, seven Executive Director positions were reclassified and six positions were reviewed to ensure compensation aligned with responsibilities or job description.
Another issue with the school system that Goldson has intended to tackle is the aging and inadequate facilities in some schools.
At the beginning of the school year, when PGCPS gave students a half day on the second day of school because of lack of air conditioning in a few schools, the interim CEO made her thoughts known saying that it was “a band-aid to a much larger issue.”
She then proposed an $8 billion, 20-year plan for building restoration and new air conditioning units for older schools to fix the larger issue of inadequate facilities and crisis management actions such as the impromptu closing of schools at the beginning of the year. The plan would need Board of Education (BOE) approval and the backing of the new county executive and governor to go forward.
In the meantime, Goldson has allotted $850,000 out of the extra savings for air quality testing throughout the school system in order to identify and remediate schools, classrooms and common areas susceptible to mold such as District Heights Elementary School which was found to have excessive mold in April and was closed at the beginning of the school year.
“I think there always every year is an opportunity to look at how money was spent in the previous year, what our goals are for the upcoming school year and where we can streamline,” Goldson said.
On top of the new distribution of funding, Goldson announced the appointment of Barry L. Stanton as PGCPS Chief Operating Officer on Oct. 12.
Stanton, who will take over Goldson’s former position, has worked in local government for about 40 years. He was previously Prince George’s County Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Public Infrastructure and is the former Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Public Safety, Prince George’s County Director of Corrections and Frederick County Manager.
“Barry Stanton comes to us with a proven level of expertise in public safety and facilities over the years in local government, has background in organizational management and strategic planning,” Goldson said. “The operation side of our shop is a critical component to school effectiveness, and we wanted to make sure that we had someone who has a proven record of being able to provide that support to larger agents.”
Although PGCPS is still searching for someone to fill the role of Chief of Communications and Community Engagement, two other people were appointed to new positions this month as well.
Michael Herbstman will fill the role of Chief Financial Officer, the former CFO for Alexandria City Public Schools and Director of Budget and Financial Services for Chicago Public Schools. Kristi Murphy will be the new Chief of Human Resources after serving as Assistant Superintendent for Arlington Public Schools.