Notes from the October 9 Budget and Operations Committee Meeting

by Lori Morrow

The Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Board of Education Budget and Operations Committee met for a regular meeting on Tuesday, October 9. BOE Members present were K. Alexander Wallace (Committee Chair), Carolyn Boston, and Sonya Willams. Members Curtis Valentine (Committee Vice Chair) and Raaheela Ahmed were on conference call. The PGCPS Chief Financial Officer Mike Herbstman and Internal Audit Director Michelle Winston were also in attendance.

1.  The first agenda item was a review of the Committee Charter. Last spring, the PGCPS Board of Education unanimously passed Board of Education policy 8100 which did a full reorganization of the standing and ad hoc committees. The reorganization nearly doubled the scope for the Budget and Operations Committee, formerly known as the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee.

The larger scope for the Budget and Operations Committee includes business management services; human resources & talent development; information technology; pupil accounting, school boundaries & capital improvement (CIP); and supporting services. Last year mostly focused on Operational and Capital Improvement Budgets and Internal Audit.

2. The second meeting agenda item was the annual work plan for the Budget and Operations Committee: https://youtu.be/H_khPdyQaLA?t=498

The document outlines meeting dates and proposed topics for the committee this school year. There was a systematic request to meet twice per month from November to February as those are peak months in covering the Operational Budget. In the committee discussion, BOE members amended the work plan to add the topics of CIP, Public-Private Partnerships (P3), 21st Century Schools State Commission, and Procurement.

The Budget and Operations Committee will also be responsible for selecting locations for the January/February Budget work sessions and public hearings.

3.  Internal Audit Director Michelle Winston presented the annual Internal Audit report: https://youtu.be/H_khPdyQaLA?t=1333

The report included a summary of FY2018 Internal Audit operations and the plan for the FY2019. Ms. Winston presented data on the 97 total financial, operational, and fraud audits; 309 hotline report submissions; and 61 property inventory assessments completed in FY2018. An estimated total losses of $16M were averted through audit activities.  Actual losses identified in the audits were $1.8M, with $1.1M of that in property assets. Property items continue to be researched on an ongoing basis.

Internal Audit is responsible for school activity fund audits, hotline & special investigations, and property inventories. Special requests for 2018 included the Human Resources salary increases and Bus Lot Transportation payroll operations.

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How Schools Spend What They Have: Comparing the Budgets of PGCPS and Neighboring School Systems

by T. Carter Ross

When it comes to school spending, many people would agree that there is a need to increase funding for teachers, programs, and activities that have a direct influence on students. But how to achieve that is the difficult part.

To get an idea of exactly what Prince George’s County Public Schools spends and where, it is worth comparing how our school system allocates its funding versus other area school systems. Not that other systems are inherently better at how they spend money, but it is a way to benchmark and to look for ideas and opportunities.

PGCPS is the 21st largest school system in the nation (2014 data from the National Center for Education Statistics). It’s the second largest school system in Maryland and the third largest in the D.C.–Maryland–Virginia region. Montgomery County Public Schools is the largest school system Maryland and the 17th largest in the nation. Fairfax County Public Schools is the largest in the region and the 11th largest in the nation.

Because the Maryland State Department of Education requires county school systems to organize their operating budgets into standardized categories, it is relatively simple to compare how MCPS and PGCPS allocate their funds. (Adding FCPS to the comparison is more difficult because its budget does not detail spending in the same manner.) This comparison does not include the separate capital improvement budget each school system compiles annually.

Approved FY2019 Budget MCPS PGCPS difference
Administration $52,513,673 $71,750,345 $19,236,672
Mid-Level Administration $150,805,386 $129,343,441 $(21,461,945)
Instructional Salaries $1,020,207,902 $709,270,428 $(310,937,474)
Textbooks & Supplies $29,064,773 $18,237,720 $(10,827,053)
Other Instructional Costs $17,237,407 $83,104,311 $65,866,904
Special Education $346,234,807 $279,824,683 $(66,410,124)
Student Personnel Services $12,903,312 $22,612,038 $9,708,726
Health Services $1,590 $20,374,722 $20,373,132
Student Transportation $109,325,393 $107,688,015 $(1,637,378)
Operation of Plant & Equipment $140,888,137 $132,297,375 $(8,590,762)
Maintenance of Plant $38,122,427 $40,699,436 $2,577,009
Fixed Charges $609,638,690 $423,611,677 $(186,027,013)
Community Services $865,163 $3,300,272 $2,435,109

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Changes in Capital Improvement Program Aim to Ease Overcrowding in Prince George’s County Schools

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by Lori Morrow

The Capital Improvement Programs (CIP) team provided a presentation on Enrollment and Facility Utilization at the Prince George’s County Public Schools Board of Education meeting on May 10, 2018. The slides provided an overview of projected K-12 enrollment over the next ten years, including a breakdown by elementary, middle, and high school levels. The presentation also included maps highlighting the over- and underutilization of school facilities and challenges associated with each. (Video of the presentation here.)

Here are a few highlights of the presentation:

  • The overall PGCPS K-12 enrollment has grown by 6,000 students since 2010 and is expected to increase by 8,000 students over the next ten years. Enrollment projections are established using the Cohort Survival Methodology that uses three inputs: births; historical ratio of students progressing from one grade to the next; and development in the area that includes typical “pupil yield” from each housing type.
  • Overutilized facilities (operating above the state-rated capacity) are heavily concentrated inside the beltway north of Central Avenue, while there are more underutilized facilities south of Central Avenue.
  • PGCPS currently has 542 portable classroom units, or “temps.” Some school sites do not have space for any additional units. Forty percent of the portables are 25+ years old and have exceeded their standard life cycle. PGCPS is planning to purchase 25 new units, at an installed cost of $95,000 each. This is the first PGCPS purchase of new portables in over ten years.
  • The top three projects on the CIP list (International HS at Langley Park, William Wirt MS, and a new Adelphi Area MS) could take 4-5 years to complete based on historical funding for capital projects, which does not provide immediate relief to those areas. In general, boundary changes and programmatic changes (like adding the Aerospace and Aviation program at Duval HS) are quicker solutions to addressing overutilization than building new facilities.
  • CIP Director Shawn Matlock presented information about a new CIP delivery method, designed to allow the completion of more facilities in a shorter amount of time. The plan would use alternative financing methods including Public-Private Partnerships (P3). The private entity would build the facility and maintain the building over a 25-year period. This method could be used for five to seven facilities (not yet fully identified). (Video link here.)
  • Under the new CIP delivery method, some facilities would receive “staged renovations” using only local PGCPS/county funds. This could speed up the process by eliminating state involvement. The list of “Cycle 1” schools recommended for modernization, staged renovation, or new schools is included in the FY 2019 Amendments to the 2017 Educational Facilities Master Plan.
  • CIP staff explained the difference between overutilization (facilities that exceed State Rated Capacity) and overcrowded classrooms. Overcrowded classrooms can also occur due to underutilization, where the number of students does not justify funding through the Student-Based Budgeting to support additional staff even though classroom space may be available. This can be especially challenging at smaller schools.
  • CIP staff and CEO Kevin Maxwell explained some of the challenges in shifting a large number of boundaries southward to balance the northern overutilization. In addition to potentially increasing transportation costs as students are moved further from neighborhoods, shifting boundaries is not always supported by the will of the communities involved.

The FY 2019 Amendments to the 2017 Educational Facilities Master Plan passed as a first reader at the May 10 meeting and is expected to return to the agenda on the June 7 meeting for action as a second reader. The document elaborates on many of the topics discussed and includes lists of schools in the first EFMP cycle. In addition, it identifies 18 planning areas recommended for possible boundary changes or school consolidation. Community engagement and forums are expected to start as early as the summer and continue throughout the fall/early winter.

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Making Sense of Student Based Budgeting

by Lori Morrow 

Last week, the principal at my daughter’s Prince George’s County elementary school presented information about Student Based Budgeting (SBB) at the monthly PTA meeting. She discussed projected enrollment, the current year’s staffing, and goals for next year.

Since the 2012-13 School Year, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) have used the SBB budget model, which gives principals more control over staffing at their schools. In late winter, principals receive their projected enrollment and funding for the next school year. The school is allocated a base amount for each student, with additional funding for students in early grades, english-language learners, and lower performance levels.

Through collaboration with staff and inputs from the community, principals must choose staffing that will work best to meet the needs and goals of the school. During our PTA Meeting, the principal asked parents for feedback in six areas: Academics/Instruction; School Safety; Attendance/Incentives; School Climate; Building Maintenance; & Parent Involvement. She will use these inputs to balance staffing and resources in her budget.

In the SBB formula, some positions are classified as “Locked,” meaning that the positions and resources are funded and staffed by PGCPS central office. This includes staffing for Principals, Special Education, Food Services, and certain positions in Specialty Programs. Certain positions are “Locked+”, which means that central office staffs a minimum for these positions, but Principals can supplement with SBB funds. One such position is Media Specialist. All remaining positions are “Unlocked” and must be purchased through the school’s SBB allocation.

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Prince George’s Schools Budget Questions Answered for FY 2019

Earlier this year, members of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools submitted questions about the Fiscal Year 2019 proposed operating budget for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGPCS). The Office of Budget and Management Services, under the direction of John Pfister, has prepared answers.

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. What is the average per student cost of the specialty programs below relative to the cost at neighborhood schools without any additional programs?

  • Language immersion
  • Performing Arts
  • TAG [Talented and Gifted]
  • Montessori

The average per student cost for specialty programs is provided below:

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2. Does PGCPS have non-resident students that attend PGCPS schools (from DC, adjacent counties)? If so, how much funding does PGCPS receive from those jurisdictions?

In FY 2017, Prince George’s County Public Schools received the following funding from other jurisdictions for non-resident students:

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 1.20.25 PM.png

NOTE: Students identified in this chart may be prorated based on the days in a non-resident status.

3. Are there any programs/resources geared towards expanding language exposure in neighborhood elementary schools?

It is the intent of this administration, when financially feasible, to expand language programs at the elementary school level. Currently, the following schools offer a world language.

Barack Obama ES
Judith P. Hoyer Montessori
Montpelier ES
Melwood ES
Rosaryville ES
Patuxent ES
Oaklands ES
Phyllis E. Williams Spanish Immersion
Fort Foote ES
University Park ES
Ardmore ES
Berwyn Heights ES
Paint Branch ES
Greenbelt ES
Accokeek Academy
Capitol Heights ES
Glenarden Woods ES
Heather Hills ES
Highland Park ES
Longfields ES
Mattaponi ES
Valley View ES
John Hanson Montessori
Robert Goddard Montessori

4. Does funding for expansion/continuity of specialty program include additional transportation needs?

The funds to support the expansion/continuity of specialty programs does, when necessary, include additional transportation needs. The expansions that are currently included in the FY 2019 Proposed Budget, however, do not require additional transportation funds.

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Three Upcoming Opportunities to Advocate for School Funding

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by Llew Brown

In our personal life, we have lots of wants, but limited resources require us to make tough choices. In the end, the way we spend our time and money reveals our priorities.  If you want to shape the school system’s priorities for next year and beyond, follow these three tips and let your voice be heard:

#1: Testify at a School Board Hearing

The last of three Budget Public Hearings to be held by the school board this year is on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 7:00 PM at Oxon Hill High School. If you register in advance to speak, you have three minutes to voice your concerns directly to the school board and CEO Kevin Maxwell. Find the proposed budget and timeline here:

http://www.pgcps.org/budget/index.aspx?id=200115

#2: Speak at one of County Executive Baker’s Budget Listening Sessions

The next opportunity is  February 8, 2017, at Prince George’s Community College. To view dates for additional sessions, and to register to speak for three minutes, go here:

https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/2404/Budget-Listening-Sessions?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

The County Council is hosting a Budget Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, February 20th

https://pgccouncil.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=423

#3: Contact your State Legislator 

Several Maryland legislators are proposing changes intended to channel more casino revenues towards  public schools.  Here’s one article discussing the issue:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-mcintosh-amendment-20171222-story.html

Learn what legislative district you belong to here, then follow the link below to contact your legislator and share your opinion on this issue.

http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/07leg/html/gacopg.html

Don’t delay: the budget bill for the current legislative session is due to be decided by April, 2018.

Notes on the Jan. 23 Budget Hearing for FY 2019

by Laura Rammelsberg

The Prince George’s County Board of Education held its first public hearing on the fiscal year 2019 operating budget on January 23, at Laurel High School. A Board of Education budget work session (video here) immediately preceded the hearing.

Prince George’s County Public Schools Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget Public Hearing

Meeting called to order at 7:15 pm

Attendees:                                                                 

Segun C. Eubanks, Ed.D, Board Chair/Appointed Member

Carolyn Boston, BOE Vice Chair, District 6

David Murray, District 1

Lupi Quinteros-Grady, District 2
Dinora A. Hernandez, Esq. District 3 – not present
Patricia Eubanks, District 4
Raaheela Ahmed, District 5
K. Alexander Wallace, District 7  – not present

Sonya Williams, District 9

Edward Burroughs III, District 8

Mary Kingston Roche, Appointed Member  – not present

Dr. Donna Wiseman, Appointed Member – not present
Curtis Valentine, M.P.P., Appointed Member – not present
Amanya Paige, Student Member – not present

Chief Executive Officer Kevin M. Maxwell, Ph.D.

Review of Budget Process

At 1:22 in the video. Dr. Eubanks: Feb 22 Board Meeting is when they will adopt the budget. It will then be sent to County Executive Baker and presented to the county council in March of 2018. The county council must adopt budget and it will be sent to the state legislature in April 2018. The board of education will then reconcile with the county’s approved budget, and it will be accepted at a board meeting in June of 2018.

Powerpoint from Budget Work Session is in Boarddocs will be posted in a few days.

***Fewer than 25 people in attendance***

***Only ONE (1) PGCPS Parent made a public comment***

Public Comments: Three Registered Speakers

  • At 4:27. Teresa Dudley, President Prince Georges County Educator’s Association (PGCEA) – Here to address four issues:
  1. Peer Assistance and Review Program (helps new teachers in the first three years of their teaching career). This year, there has been very high turnover rate for new teachers – 15%.  30% of these are conditional teachers. Peer Assistant and Review Coaches are needed to teach basic pedagogy and bring them to speed of review process in county. The conditional teachers don’t have that training and need classes in the school system, so that they stay in the system.
  2. Community Schools & Restorative Practices.
  3. ESSA Re-Authorization. A Policy is coming before the Board that needs to be instituted for pilot program.  And need to make sure they are ready from upcoming ESSA specifics coming back from state and the federal government and money set aside for Committees to deal with that.
  4. Compensation and Working Conditions. Negotiated Agreement – Step increase and retirement incentives. They want to make sure that stays in the budget as well.
  • At 8:22. Representative of Saturday School Program, that works with 150+ PGCPS students at High Point High School since 2015. Modeled after program started in Montgomery County. Community Work Advance partnered with the school system in this effort. 30% improvement in ath proficiency. They request funding to renew program at High Point High School for 2 years and open a second site at Crossland High School. Each feeder system or host school requires an annual budget of $175,000.
  • At 11:25. Parent of Saturday School student testified to the benefits of the program for her daughter. Daughter was motivated and looks forward to every Saturday. Now an honors math student. Parents are proud of her, but give credit to Saturday School for her success. She encourages BOE to support the continuation of this program. The parents are engaged and kept well-informed by the Saturday School team.

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