FY 2018 Budget Questions Answered

Monday’s budget information session was a lively event, with more than 50 attendees and a slew of questions about funding for such areas as maintenance and repairs, Pre-Kindergarten education, Student Based Budgeting, and transportation. In advance of the event, the Office of Budget and Management Services, under the direction of John Pfister, prepared answers to 29 questions that members of the community had submitted.

The questions and their answers are found below (and available in PDF format here). It may be helpful to refer to the proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2018, found here.

1. Is there any increase or decrease in the amount of funding proposed for home and hospital tutors and/or one-on-one aides?

There has been no request to increase or decrease in the level of funding for home and hospital tutors for FY 2018.  To date the funding level is projected to remain the same as FY 2017.

2. Is special education instruction receiving additional funding under the proposed budget?

Yes, there was an increase of $2.6M in Special Education for FY 2018. This increase in funding for Special Education will provide supplemental resources such that budgeted amounts will support anticipated costs based on prior year expenditures. 

3. How much is budgeted to pay substitute teachers and how does that compare to prior budgets?

The FY 2018 Proposed Budget contains $16.8 million for substitute teachers as compared to $17.4 million for the FY 2017 Approved Budget and $19.7 million for the FY 2016 Approved Budget.

4. The Budget in Brief Document reflects a decrease in Federal funding in the amount of $6,493,626. Is this the loss of head start funding? Is there funding included in the proposed budget to make up for the lost federal head start funding? What’s the earliest that this funding could be restored from the federal government?

The decrease in Federal revenue of $6,493,626 in the Budget in brief reflects the loss of funding for the Head Start program. There is no funding in the proposed budget to replace the federal Head Start program funds. However, current students in the Head Start program will be absorbed into the district’s existing Pre-K program at a cost of $5.1 million and require additional staffing of 68.0 FTE. If the district were to seek Federal funding for the Head Start program, application for the funds would have to occur by May 1, 2017 and would cover the time period of August 1, 2017- July 31, 2018.

5. Focus Area 1: Academic Excellence includes Diversity Specialist & Supports at a change of $289,568. Does this represent the salary of one person?  How much of this is salary, not including benefits?

The Diversity Office increased by 1.0 FTE under the Interpreting and Translation Services. The FY2018 Proposed budget includes a 1.0 FTE for an ELL Family Engagement Specialist at an estimate cost of $ 76,608 plus $ 30,975 in benefits. Interpreting and Translation Services proposed an increase of $ 181,985 to support existing contracts for translation. Language Links and Transact need additional funds due to increased use.

6. Focus Area 2: High-Performing Workforce: What is a Mentor and Peer Assistance & Review (PAR) Teacher? (7 FTE’s, $813,775)

The Mentor and Peer Assistance & Review (PAR) Teacher includes Mentor Teachers to provide coaching, demonstration lessons, shared lesson planning and professional development sessions for teachers with a focus on Framework for Teaching. COMAR regulations (13A.07.01) recommends a maximum ratio of 15:1 (mentees/mentors), and this additional staffing will allow PGCPS to get closer to meeting that recommended ratio. The Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program uses expert teachers to provide regular, consistent support to struggling new teachers to ensure their future success in the classroom.

7. Communication Specialist (Board of Education), $140,423 – Is this a newly created position?

The Communication Specialist in Board of Education Office is a newly created position proposed for fiscal year 2018.

8. Overtime supporting services $6,000,000. Please describe what this pays for? How does this compare to the amount spent on this expenditure last year?

The FY 2018 Proposed Budget includes $6.0 million to support overtime in the division of Supporting Services to align the budget closer to historical expenditure levels.  This brings the total appropriation for all funds for FY 2018 to $9.1 million.   These funds are to support overtime for Transportation, Maintenance and Plant Operations.  Overtime within these departments has been increasing due to absences, mid-day runs and additional routes. Expenditure for FY 2017 were $12.1 million. Management is researching alternatives to reduce overtime usage in the future.

9. P-Tech High School $953,120 – Is this a new program?

P-Tech is a new program and is being implemented based on Senate Bill 376 – Pathway in Technology Early College High Schools Act of 2016 which went into effect June 1, 2016. Both programs (P-TECH Health and P-TECH Hospitality) will be located at one school – Frederick Douglass High School.

10. What are restorative practices? $129,661.

Restorative practices in schools are based on restorative justice principles instead of punishment. They aim first to build classroom communities that are supported by clear agreements, authentic communication, and specific tools to bring issues and conflicts forward in a helpful way. They provide specific pathways to repair harms by bringing together those who are affected by misbehavior in a dialogue to address concerns, achieve understanding, and come to agreement about setting things right.

11. Student Safety Task Force Recommendations (7 yr plan) – $1,729,112: What is the current staffing levels (psychologists, counselors, etc)?

The current staffing levels for School Psychologists, Professional School Counselors and Pupil Personnel Workers are detailed below:

Position Name Total FTE
Professional School Counselor 346*
Pupil Personnel Worker 43
Pupil Personnel, Transition Worker 7
School Psychologist – 11 Month 53
School Psychologist – 12 Month 31

*Includes 168.0 FTE supported with School Based Budgeting (SBB) funds

12. Transportation Staffing – $1,130,801: Does this include funds for the software used to track buses?

The FY 2018 Proposed Budget includes $1,130,801 in additional funds to support Transportation.   These funds provide for 5.0 clerks for the Call Center and 15.0 bus drivers.   It does not include any funds for software for parents to track buses on their prescribed routes.

13. Talent Development – Culture Training for $610,000: Who is expected to be performing this training?

The training is  a combination of the actual vendors (The Arbinger Institute & Gallup Organization) providing turn-key training to in-house (PGCPS) facilitators who will ultimately deliver the training to all of the employees in PGCPS over time.  In addition, the cost includes: training the facilitators, and some of the materials for the training. 

14. It looks like the Maintenance and Repair line item is reduced from last year. Is that correct? Is this being offset by another line item that will increase the resources going toward the backlog of needed repairs?

The line item for Maintenance and Repair of Buildings in the division of Maintenance was reduced by $50,000 in the FY 2018 Proposed Budget and realigned to Asbestos Removal creating an increase of $50,000 for that line item.

15. Regarding the proposal to add 60 TAG seats at the Middle School level. Will these seats be added by increasing the average class size at the TAG centers, or will it require adding additional teachers?

No, these seats will not increase the average class size at the Talented and Gifted (TAG) centers.  Sixty additional TAG seats will be added to Benjamin Tasker Middle School at grade six to assist in reducing the current middle school wait list for entry into our TAG program.  The addition of sixty additional seats to Benjamin Tasker Middle School will require an additional position.

16. Is there any proposed funding increase dedicated to improving TAG programs at neighborhood middle schools through additional staff training, curriculum, resources, or partnering with programs like John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth? What percentage of TAG-identified middle school students attend: a. TAG Centers, b. Charter schools, c. non-TAG specialty programs (performing arts, language immersion), and d. boundary schools?

There is currently no proposed funding increase dedicated to improving Talented and Gifted (TAG) Programs at neighborhood middle schools. Percentage of TAG Identified middle school students are as follows:

  Number of Students Percentage
a)      Boundary 2011 49.17%
b)     Charter 451 11.03%
c)      Specialty 370 9.05%
d)     Tag Center 1258 30.76%
Grand Total 4090 100.00%

17. I am glad that the numerous concerns with the deteriorating Bowie HS Annex are on the list to be addressed.  As I reviewed the budget, the details of the plan are not clear to me.  What is being covered? Why does the amount seem to far exceed the cost of building new HS – Langley Park ($2.4M) and Fairmont Heights ($9M)?

This request is for funding approval for a limited renovation and improvements to the existing instructional spaces to include selected educational program enhancements and a minimum of five systemic improvements, as required. 

Systemic Improvements will include the following throughout the entire building:

  • The removal and replacement of the suspended ceiling system,
  • The replacement of all Univent and related piping and plumbing accessories,
  • The replacement of the old piping with new Hot and Cold Piping System, Central Air Conditioning,
  • Replacement of the 1989 re-roofing of the original building including canopies for a total square footage of 78,604 sq. ft. 
  • Replacement of the fire sprinkler system.

Educational enhancements include the following renovations to meet Board adopted educational specifications:                                                                                                                             

  • One Integrated Science Classroom (123), 
  • Two Science Labs and a Prep Room (120,121),                    
  • Computer Lab (116),
  • Family and Consumer Lab (114),
  • Standard Classrooms, Corridor areas and support Bathroom and Storage spaces. 
  • Foundation of Technology Classroom (119)

This is a request for the balance of construction funding. State planning and $5.501 million in construction funding was approved in FY17. The request of $9 million for Fairmont Heights and $2.4 million for The International High School at Langley Park is only partial funding requests for these projects. 

18. I know that the budget includes the enhancement of more AP and IB classes. How will this impact my local middle school (Samuel Ogle MS) and high school (Bowie HS)?  

The FY18 budget request does not request additional classes for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB).  The selection of courses at each school site is based on student interest.  Schools also have access to a report from the College Board entitled AP Potential which recommends courses to offer at each school based on student success on the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT).  Therefore, the selection of AP courses varies from school to school and is not determined by the Division of Teaching and Learning.  All of our IB sites currently offer the required courses to ensure students have the opportunity to earn their IB Diploma. 

19. The “Budget Development” section of the budget indicates that in September/October the CEO should have held a public hearing on budget priorities. To my knowledge the forum was not held this school year. Is this correct, and if so, why?

CEO’s Budget Forum was not held this past year, due to extenuating circumstances. We did publish a community survey to solicit public input regarding the budget prior to the CEO’s Budget Presentation to the Board. The results of the survey are listed here.

piechart

20. On page 41, “Changes in Operating Expenditures by Organization.” Under Chief Financial Officer, expenditures for “Other Fixed Charges” increase by over $25 million. What is causing this significant increase (over 23%)?

The cause for the $25 million increase is due to an increase in employee benefits and contracted services.  The major increase is due to OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits), which has a $15 million increase. As of June 30, 2016, the increase of $15 million in OPEB is to reduce the unfunded liability of $1.25 billion.  The other $10 million increase is due to the increase in cost of employee benefits, and decrease of indirect cost recovery.

21. Also on page 41, both Building Services and Transportation & Central Garage expenditures are increasing significantly, well beyond the figures indicated in the FY2018 program enhancements. What will these additional expenditures be used for?

Appropriations levels for FY 2018 for Transportation increased from $114.6 million in the FY 2017 Approved Budget to $122.6 million in the FY 2018 Proposed Budget for a total increase of $8.0 million.   This is primarily due to a $5.1 million increase in salaries in wages is not only for the improvement for Overtime but for negotiation changes that have occurred during the FY 2017 budget cycle now reflected upon this page.   Additional increases include a $1.1 million increase in benefits due to increased FTE and rate changes and a $1.9 million increase in contracted services due to increases in Lease Purchase/Non-Energy for the purchase of new buses and increases in Maintenance & Repair (M&R) of vehicles to support our existing fleet.

22. According to “Operating Staffing by Category” (page 43), there will be a minimal staffing increase in “Administration” (1 FTE, or 0.2%, increase). But according to “Budget Highlights” (page 31), expenditures for “Administration” increase from $55.7 million to $64.7 million – a 16% increase. What explains this difference?

The FY 2018 Proposed Budget includes an $8.9M increase in the category of Administration.   This increase is primarily in the objects of contracted services, expenditure recovery, other operating expenses and salaries and wages. Contracted Services increased by $2.7M primarily as a result of increases in legal expenses for external counsel, professional contracted services due to increases for Cultural Training and background checks for FARMS, and improvements for technology software applications and website compliance. A reduction of $1.3M in the anticipated indirect cost recovery [Expenditure Recovery] charged to federal grants increases costs in the Administration category. Other Operating Expenses increased by $2.3M due to an increase in the restricted [grant] budget. Salaries and Wages increased by $2.3M to support projected negotiations for FY 2018 and an increase in for anticipated grants. FY 2017 Current year budgeted and expenditure amounts are listed in the table below as of December 31, 2016.

table1

23. Page 46, “Operating Staffing by Position,” indicates that “Aide – Paraprofessional” positions will be reduced by 34. Where are these reductions made?

The reductions to the Aide-Paraprofessional positions are due to the elimination of the Early and Head Start programs which represents a reduction of (69.0) FTE paraprofessional positions.  These positions are located at various Early and Head Start sites.  This reduction is off-set by the increase of 34.0 FTE paraprofessional positions to support the expansion of the pre-k program as well as an increase of 1.0 FTE to support the international school expansion.

24. Page 67, “School-based Resources.” “Professional Contracted Services” have increased substantially over the last couple of years. What are these expenditures for and why have they increased so much?

The increase in Professional Contracted Services is primarily due to funds to supplement Special Education such that budgeted amounts will support anticipated costs based on prior year expenditures; International Schools to provide facility modifications and modular for the year 3 expansion of the existing program as well as funds to support anticipated enrollment growth for Charter Schools. 

25. Page 85, CEO’s office. Proposed staffing will be reduced from 8 to 5 FTEs, but expenditures for salaries and wages will increase from $835K to $853K. What explains this?

The CEO’s FY2018 Proposed staffing decreased (3.0) FTE. The change is primarily due to the realignment of the Monitoring, Accountability, and Compliance Office staff (3.0) FTE from the CEO’s page to its own page (p.97). The increase in salaries and wages reflect the change in personnel and the increase in cost of living (COLA) salary improvement.

26. What does abbreviation “RMF” stand for? On page 154, line items “Excess Property-RMF” and “General Liability-RMF.” And what does “OPEB” stand for (page 155, under Contracted Services)?

On page 154, line items “Excess Property-RMF and General Liability – RMF” are abbreviations for “Excess Property-Risk Management fund and General Liability – Risk Management Fund”. On page 155, under Contracted Services, “OPEB” is an abbreviation for “Other Post-Employee Benefits”.

27. Page 159, Chief Information Officer. Under contracted services, line item “Lease/Purchases-Non-Energy” has increased significantly since FY2016? What does this line item cover and what explains the significant increases over the last couple of years?

The FY 2018 proposed budget for Lease Purchases – Non-Energy supports technology refresh which ensures the availability of technology infrastructure that supports instructional and administrative programs perform the functions necessary to effectively operate.  The increase in Lease Purchases covers the replacement of obsolete equipment with up-to-date assets such as desktops, laptops and other end-user devices that meet the changing needs of technology.   

28. Page 217, Area Associate Superintendents. What are the “Secondary Classroom Teacher” positions (90 positions in FY18 proposed budget)? What do these teachers do and where are they stationed?

Alternative Programs, Incarcerated Youth 3 teachers

Annapolis Road Academy – 14 teachers

Community Based Classroom – 5 teachers

Evening High School – 2 teachers

Green Valley Academy – 18 teachers

International High School – Langley Park – 18 teachers

International High School – Largo – 18 teachers

The Academy for Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College – 12 teachers

29. Page 274. PGCPS was supposed to reduce testing by eliminating MUST tests. However, there appears to have been no reduction in Testing, Research & Evaluation budget. What was the budgetary impact of eliminating MUST tests and what is driving increases in the office’s budget?

The decision to reduce testing by eliminating MUST tests was not a budgetary decision, but a decision to examine the amount of assessments being given in all schools and determine what could be eliminated. The cost of MUST test in the Testing Office was primarily printing costs.  The MUST tests were developed in house in collaboration with the Content Office in the Division of Curriculum and Instruction. The majority of Testing, Research and Evaluations budget is spent on testing materials. These materials range from printed materials for schools, training, the physical assessment test, and/or materials purchased for the actual physical assessments. Many assessments are now offered online and Testing, Research and Evaluation support to the schools include the purchase of computer devices to aid online test taking, headphones, mice, and mini-cams (for alternate assessments), and printing costs to support training and testing resources for all schools. Testing, Research and Evaluation also provide resources to schools such as pencils and paper (for many tests that are not online such as the PSAT, ACT, and others) to ensure equity across schools.

Please send any additional questions to pgcabschools@gmail.com. We will submit a second set of questions to the Office of Budget and Management Services.

Find Budget Director John Pfister’s PowerPoint presentation from the Jan 23 meeting here.

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