by Lori Morrow
The Prince George’s County Public Schools budget cycle began this past fall, with CEO Kevin Maxwell requesting public input in crafting the proposed Annual Operating Budget for fiscal year 2017. In a school system with nearly 129,000 students in 209 schools, the public submitted only 53 responses.
We all know that parents have opinions. We hear them at PTA meetings, school events, on social media, or from our friends and neighbors. However, sharing opinions with our friends is not enough. We must participate in the process. This year, the CEO is requesting an increase of $182.2Million over last year’s budget to support academic excellence, build a high-performing work force, and expand high-demand programs. After years of tight budgets, these are things our schools need to continue improving.
Getting involved may sound daunting and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be:
- Learn about the budget. Visit the PGCPS budget website at http://www1.pgcps.org/budget/ and spend five minutes reviewing the “Budget in Brief” or scan the sections that interest you. Reading the full 300-page version is not required!
- Share your opinions. Email your Board of Education members (addresses are online at www1.pgcps.org/board) and let them know your priorities. They aren’t looking for multi-page documents; a simple email that says, “These things are important to me” is welcomed! If you have time, register to speak at the final PGCPS Budget Public Hearing on February 9th , 7pm (Call 301-952-6115 by 4:30 pm on Monday to register. Hearing will be held at the Sasscer Building in Upper Marlboro.)
- Encourage friends and neighbors to participate and encourage your PTA/PTO to advocate beyond school walls. Increase the volume. Ten emails that support the same priorities carry more weight than one.
- Follow PGCPS and County government online or on social media to keep informed throughout the process (http://www1.pgcps.org, http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov ). The PGCPS budget cycle starts in the fall and carries through final approval in June.
- Advocate beyond the school system. The budget cycle does not end when the Board of Education votes on the budget proposal on February 25th. County Executive Rushern Baker (email@example.com) is currently seeking input for the Prince George’s County Annual Budget, which will then go to the County Council for public hearings and approval in the Spring (http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/sitepages/legislative_landing.aspx ). Approximately 70% of the CEO’s requested increase will depend on County sources. Share your opinions at ALL levels.
This budget will affect us all, whether we participate or not. Don’t miss your chance to play a part. Our children deserve a school system that is “Great by Choice!” and we must take an active role in the process to make it happen.