County Council to Adopt Budget Today at 1:00; Baker Modifies Plan to Increase Funds for Schools

From the Washington Post, published May 27 2015, reporter Arelis R. Hernandez. Go here for the full story.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III on Wednesday backed away from a proposal to increase property taxes to generate new money for the county’s troubled public schools, — tacitly acknowledging that he did not have the support he needed from the County Council.

Instead of raising the tax rate by 15 percent, which would have produced $133 million, Baker (D) announced that he would seek $65 million in additional school funding in the budget the council is scheduled to vote on Thursday.


Press release on 5/27/2015 from the office of Rushern Baker.
The Prince George’s County Council will convene session on Thursday, May 28, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. (new time) to adopt a balanced spending plan for Fiscal Year 2016, which begins July 1, 2015.  Budget adoption will take place in the Council Hearing Room, First Floor, County Administration Building, 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Live streaming of the Budget Adoption will be available and can be accessed by clicking here at 1:00 p.m.  Budget information is available on the County Council FY 2016 Budget web page.

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Online Poll Shows Little Support for Property Tax Increase

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

County Council Member Mel Franklin (Democrat, District 9, Council Chair) has invited residents to take a one-question, online poll regarding the proposed 15.6% property tax increase to fund Prince George’s County Public Schools. As of 8:11 am this morning, 549 out of 630 respondants answered that they opposed the proposed property tax increase. Only 5.3% of 630 respondants stated that they support the property tax increase outright, with 7.4% indicating that they would be willing to consider a smaller increase

While these numbers are certainly suggestive, we should be cautious about interpreting the survey results as representative of the views of county residents. Opponents of the tax increase have promoted the poll through social media and email. Hence the group of 630 respondants is far from being a random sample of voters; it is a self-selected group that may not accurately represent the opinions of voters in Prince Goerge’s County.

Screen capture of poll results.

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PGCPS Parent Urges School System to Look for Ways to Save Money

The following is a statement to be delivered by Tommi Makila at the Prince George’s County Council Budget Hearing on April 28, 2015. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the owner of this website, Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Good evening,

My name is Tommi Makila. I live in Accokeek, and my son attends Prince George’s County Public Schools. I am a PTA activist and heavily involved in my son’s school.

First of all, I consider improving our schools a high priority. Thus, I want to commend the County Executive for making our schools a high priority. However, I have serious concerns about the school budget proposal.

I believe the goals and strategies outlined in the County Executive’s school budget proposal make sense and seem likely to strengthen the school system and improve its performance. However, what seems to be lacking in the proposal is any serious effort to seek savings to fund the new proposals. When you ask for a significant investment in certain areas – significant enough to warrant a 15% property tax increase – I believe you also have the responsibility to look for meaningful savings opportunities in other areas of the budget. Our goal should be to try to minimize, or even eliminate, the need for a property tax increase. Just like any other organization, we will need to prioritize issues.

InstructionalExpendituresChart

Graph Credit: Tom Dernoga

To substantiate my belief that there is room in the school budget to prioritize items without sacrificing our investment in the classroom, I want to point out a couple of facts about the school budget. Between FY2003 and FY2015, total school system expenditures have risen by 685 million. During the same time period, instructional salaries have only risen by 156 million1.

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Prince George’s Schools CEO Says Tax Hike Will Lift Schools

From WUSA9, reported by Scott Broom, April 22, 2015.

For the complete story, go here.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WUSA9) — “It’s as much as a guarantee as I can give you,” said Prince George’s County Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell when asked about his strategic plan for Prince George’s County Schools.

Maxwell’s plan promises to lift the county’s long-suffering school system from near the bottom of state ranks to within the top-10 by 2020.

Not a single member of the Council has committed to support the tax proposal which will be voted on in the county budget by June 1.

Click here to continue reading and to watch the video coverage at the WUSA9 site.