UPPER MARLBORO — During the Prince George’s County Board of Education’s (BOE) Dec. 12 executive session, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) CEO Monica Goldson unveiled a $2.3 billion operating budget proposal for fiscal year 2021.
With enrollment steadily increasing in PGCPS, the proposed budget prioritizes student-focused initiatives and services along with an increase in invested resources for the school system’s faculty members and support staff.
“The FY 2021 budget reflects our commitment to build pride in Prince George’s County Public Schools,” says the budget summary.
Also, the FY21 budget consists of seven funds, some of which are classified as “special revenue funds.” The general (or current expense) fund, before and after-school fund, capital project fund, capital assets fund, food and nutrition services fund, school activity fund and self-insurance fund is listed on the proposal and are under the control of the BOE.
The proposal is anchored by investments in the five focus areas of Goldson’s strategic plan: (1) high-performing workforce, with an expense of $94.2 million; (2) academic excellence, with an expense of $15.7 million; (3) safe and supportive environments, with an expense of $6.9 million; (4) family and community engagement, with an expense of $2.9 million and (5) organizational effectiveness, with an expense of $1.2 million.
Goldson proposed that a combined $120.9 million investment be made to the five above-mentioned major areas of focus.
Among the budget proposal highlights were a universal meals program at 45 community schools that will provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner to more than 31,000 PGCPS students. Other highlights in Goldson’s presentation included a new middle school language immersion program, Career and Technical Education (CTE) enhancements and expanded mental health supports in every school.
The plan also aims to enhance building and maintenance services, advocates for additional funding and services as recommended by the Kirwan Commission and prioritizes a commitment to salary increases for the school system’s educators, administrators and support staff. All of these initiatives and objectives are a part of the five major focus areas itemized in the budget presentation.
The BOE’s proposed FY21 Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding totals $240 million. The CIP, requested to be partially funded by the state and the county, consists of numerous renovation and restoration projects for the all-round betterment of PGCPS students and staff. Items such as security upgrades, stadium upgrades, infrastructural improvements and various HVAC modernizations reflect the CIP’s mission to improve the quality and condition of elementary, middle and high schools throughout the county.
“All families have the same dream for their child: a quality education that nurtures their talents and propels their dreams,” Goldson said as she concluded her 30-minute budget presentation.
“By supporting students in and outside of the classroom, we prepare the next generation for the world beyond our schoolhouse doors.”
Just before the budget proposal, the BOE unanimously approved a proposed ratification of the FY21 and FY22 compensation improvements for employees represented by ACE-AFSCME (Association of Classified Employees-American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Local 2250, a labor union representing roughly 5,400 PGCPS support staff, according to its website.
The proposed budget totals precisely $2,302,145,600, an increase of about $119 million (5.8 percent) from the FY 2020 approved operating budget.
For the coming fiscal year, state funds are projected to increase by $45.8 million due to continued enrollment increases, which is the primary factor in state formula programs including improvements to the Foundation Program, compensatory education and limited English proficiency aid as the school system’s English language learners population continues to grow, according to Goldson’s FY21 annual operating budget summary.
Between Jan. 21 and Feb. 4, 2020, the BOE will hold three budget work sessions and three budget public hearings before submitting the requested budget to County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on March 1. The Prince George’s County Council will consider the budget for approval in May.
Before ending her presentation, Goldson made the board aware of a few additional revenue considerations, including Pre-K expansion, at-risk student funding and Transportation Task Force recommendations ensuring the timely arrival and departure of school buses.
“Prince George’s County must be a school system of choice for teachers, school leaders, students and families,” wrote Goldson in her budget summary.
“As our enrollment continues to rise, our mission and goal remain clear. Prince George’s County Public Schools will provide a great education that empowers all students and contributes to thriving communities. This budget recommendation continues our work to build trust, resolve long-standing concerns and build pride in PGCPS.”