UPPER MARLBORO — The school year has come to a close and with summer vacation and planning for the next school year well underway, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) CEO Monica Goldson released an End of Year Report highlighting the accomplishments of the school system in the 2018-2019 year on July 15.
“With the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year, I am excited to reflect on our progress and look towards the future in this End of Year Report,” Goldson said in a statement. “I am honored to have been selected as Chief Executive Officer and will utilize the knowledge gained over the past year to improve our school system further.”
In the report, Goldson, who was made permanent CEO of the school system by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on June 18, said she had heard success stories and challenges of parents and students navigating PGCPS. According to her, “the work done to date is only the beginning.”
The End of Year Report detailed progress PGCPS has made in four different areas.
One of them was educational standards. The report highlighted that 80% of PGCPS schools received one of the top three ratings in the state’s new accountability system and fully implemented the 28 recommendations given by the Maryland State Department of Education following their graduation audit.
PGCPS adopted their $2.1 billion FY2020 budget, an accomplishment that Board of Education Vice President Edward Burroughs noted at the time it was approved that it was the first time in years that the board of education unanimously adopted a budget.
The report also highlighted the creation of a Teacher Advisory Council. This 18-member council, made up of educators, will be tasked with reviewing ways to improve communication and program implementation.
The school system has been working towards establishing a culture of accountability, which included creating an office that manages and supports transparency and accountability measures. Additionally, they hired an ethics compliance officer to further assist with those initiatives and to ensure audits and referrals to outside agencies are followed through.
Along with accountability, PGCPS has also worked on transparency. This includes increased school communication, an increased number of publicly available documents that the community can review and reformed business operations where staff must respond to inquiries within 48 hours.
At the beginning of the school year, one of the first things Goldson did when she was interim CEO took on a reorganization of central offices, which redirected $2.4 million back to the schools.
The school system also created an employee compensation restoration task force, which was supposed to assess the need for restorative pay for PGCPS employees as well as provide information on how the county’s salaries compared to surrounding jurisdictions. They were able to provide salary increases totaling $46.5 million over the next three years to 8,300 eligible employees.
Board of Education Chair Alvin Thornton said at the time that the salary information provided by the compensation task force will inform similar salary decisions in the future and that the board of education will act responsibly and with transparency when making those decisions.
“The decisions we must make will be difficult because our school system has many competing funding needs,” Thornton said. “This phase is not the last one. Soon we will enter the next one where we will need to continue working together to secure adequate and equitable funding for our public school system and our children, fully addressing legacy and current compensation needs, within a shared system of accountability and transparency to the public.”
The final area the report highlighted was community engagement. PGCPS provided ways for the community to connect with PGCPS either through listening sessions, ways for the community to get involved with the school such as the 20,000 Meal Challenge during the government shut down and the Adopt-A-School program where businesses can partner with a school to help provide resources.
Although the End of Year Report highlighted the accomplishments that PGCPS made throughout the year, it also touched on improvements that they will be making in the 2019-2020 school year through the Blueprint for PGCPS.
After the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future was passed and brought $53 million in additional funding to PGCPS for the upcoming school year, Goldson announced the Blueprint for PGCPS which detailed how that funding would be distributed to benefit the school system.
According to the report, during the 2019-2020 school year that funding will be directed toward high-need schools, pre-K expansion, mental health services, employee compensation, individualized education programs and extra support for students who struggle with reading.
“The needs of our neighborhood schools and communities remain at the core of our decision-making,” Goldson said. “Next year, we will invest additional funds and resources across the school system, focusing on low-performing schools, prekindergarten expansion and increased mental health supports. It is my privilege to work every day towards building a school system that fulfills the promise of academic excellence for all students.”