PGCPS Parents: Speak Up About Next Year’s Budget

by Lori Morrow

Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) have started soliciting public input for the Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget. CEO Kevin Maxwell hosted a forum on Monday, November 13th to hear from members of the public about budget priorities. He was joined by Chief Operating Officer Wesley Watts, Budget Director John Pfister, Board of Education Chair Segun Eubanks, Board of Education Vice Chair Carolyn Boston, and Board of Education Member Sonya Williams.

The short meeting started with an overview of the budget process by Mr. Pfister.  Seven registered speakers shared their feedback, including four parents from Robert Goddard Montessori School advocating for teacher training, materials, and reduced class sizes.  Additional speakers included a parent from the Maya Angelou French Immersion program and a representative from the Education Support Professionals union. Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS) member Tommi Makila thanked the administration for these efforts to engage the public. He also argued that the PGCPS operating budget should focus on things that most directly touch classrooms.

After public comment concluded, the administration shared that PGCPS is testing a new online platform, Let’s Talk, to collect inputs about next year’s spending priorities. This survey will be available through November 27th so that the administration can review comments prior to the CEO’s Proposed Budget presentation to the board of education on December 14th.

Additional public comment forums will be held at locations throughout the county in January and February as the Board of Education shapes the budget request to send forward to Prince George’s County Executive. PGCABS is also working with the PGCPS Budget Office to host a public question and answer forum about the operating budget this winter.

Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts about FY 2019 Operating Budget priorities with the PGCPS CEO here before November 27th.  Historically, feedback tends to be low in these early stages of the budget process but the Operating Budget impacts our students at every level. If you are not sure where to start, consider using the survey to answer one of these questions:

  1. What programs work well and should be kept/expanded at your school?
  2. What programs are not working well and should be eliminated, or may need increased funding to be effective?
  3. Are there programs that you would like to see added within your child’s school or within the county school system?
  4. What additional resources do you feel would benefit your child’s school or classroom (technology, books, field trips, etc.)?
  5. Do you feel that your school has the correct staffing level to meet students’ needs (classroom teachers, aides, special ed, support staff, etc.)?
  6. Do you feel that class sizes at your school are appropriate?
  7. What maintenance concerns do you have about PGCPS facilities?
  8. Do you feel that support services like transportation and security are adequate in PGCPS?

Continue reading

PGCABS to Host Budget Q & A Session

by Tommi Makila

Budget season for Prince George’s County Public Schools is in full swing. The CEO’s proposed operating budget for Fiscal Year 2018 is now available on the PGCPS website. If you don’t have time to read the whole budget, consider reading the introduction, which includes specific changes in expenditures compared with last year’s budget (p. 16-19), as well as information on capital improvement projects (p. 20-24).  A less-detailed Budget in Brief document is also available.

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools (PGCABS) is hosting, in collaboration with PGCPS staff, a question and answer session about the proposed operating budget on Monday, January 23 at 6:30 pm at Ernest Everett Just Middle School. This will be an excellent opportunity for interested residents to pose questions to the PGCPS budget office staff about the proposed operating budget. PGCABS hosted a similar Q&A session on the budget last year.

Questions about the budget can also submitted in advance of the meeting by clicking here (or send an email to pgcabschools@gmail.com). PGCPS budget staff will prepare answers in advance of the meeting. Emailed questions need to be submitted by Monday, January 16.

The Board of Education will host three public hearings during which residents will have an opportunity to comment on the CEO’s proposed budget. These hearings will be held on January 24, January 31, and February 7, at 7 pm. To sign up to speak at the hearings, call the BOE office at 301-952-6115. Each speaker will have three minutes to make his/her comments.

Give Input on Next Year’s Budget at Oct. 13 Forum

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

CEO Kevin Maxwell and his team are already developing the Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget for Prince George’s County Public Schools and will present a proposed budget to the Board of Education some time in December. On Tuesday, October 13 at 7 pm, members of the community will have the opportunity to present testimony in the Sasscer board room regarding budget priorities for FY 2017. This public input will be shared with CEO Maxwell.

Speakers will be given two minutes to speak at the forum and must register by 4:30 p.m. on the day of the forum by calling 301-952-6001. Read more details in the Oct. 7 news release.

Wondering why we’re already talking about the 2017 budget? Here’s a quick review of the budget process:

  • The Fiscal Year 2017 budget actually goes into effect in 2016. It covers the period from July 2016 through June 2017.
  • The CEO and his team begin crafting a budget during the summer, a full year before it will go into effect. The CEO then presents a recommended budget to the Board of Education some time in December.
  • After work sessions and public hearings, the Board of Education adopts a version of the budget, using the CEO’s proposed budget as a starting point. Once the Board votes on the budget (probably in some time in February), it is known as the “requested budget” for the next fiscal year.
  • Why “requested”? Because the Board then sends the budget to the County Executive and County Council for approval. The County Council may or may not decide to fully fund the Board’s requested budget. (In the case of the FY 2016 budget, the Council gave PGCPS less than they asked for.)
  • Once the County Council has approved a spending level, the Board of Education must go through a process of reconciliation — making the budget fit the constraints set by the Council’s funding decision.
  • The Board of Education then votes to pass a final budget in June.

Why You Should Consider Attending the May 7 or May 11 Board of Education Community Discussion

BOE Invest in PGCPS Flyer

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

If you have questions and concerns about the Board of Education’s requested operating budget for FY 2016, consider attending either the May 7 or May 11 community discussion with the Board of Education. (For locations and more details, see the flyer.) I attended the first in the series of three meetings on April 27, and I was pleased with how worthwhile it turned out to be.

First, let me qualify my enthusiasm just a bit: Not every moment was a valuable use of my time. The meeting was in two parts. It started with at least 30 minutes of vague generalities about the school system’s core values and mission, and comments about the need for full funding of the FY2016 budget. The substantive information gleaned from this portion of the meeting could have been easily squeezed into five minutes. (Fortunately, I had brought my hard copy of the requested operating budget, so I had material to study when my attention waned.)

We heard about the CEO’s plans to spend the additional $91.7 million requested in the amended budget, but they were so vague that they were essentially meaningless. Here’s how he wants to spend the money:

  • Academic Excellence
  • High-performing workforce
  • Safe and Supportive Environments
  • Family and Community Engagement
  • Additional Priorities

See what I mean?

Continue reading