“That was nonnegotiable,” he said.
Under the measure introduced, the CEO would have wide-ranging authorities; among other things, he or she could set school boundaries, consolidate schools and arrange student transportation.
The CEO would continue to work with the school board to develop a budget. But since the position would be part of the county executive’s cabinet, Baker would have more initial input in the spending plan.
The school board would continue to have control over the $1.7 billion budget, and the board also would continue to set the salaries of employees and bargain with the unions. Baker wanted the superintendent to have the power to set salaries, which led the teachers’ union, concerned about collective bargaining agreements, to oppose the entire plan.
Under Baker’s original plan, the county executive’s office would have line-item authority over the schools budget, which is more than half the county’s $2.7 billion budget.
School Chairman Verjeana M. Jacobs (District 5), who on Saturday called Baker’s plan “a last-minute power grab,” said Monday that she needed more information about the bill before commenting.
The board, which would gain six additional appointed members, would offer methods for student assessment and mediation and assist the superintendent in developing a program to train principals in increasing parental involvement.
The new school board members would include an appointee picked by the county executive, a County Council appointee, the president of the PTA Council and three nonvoting members representing Bowie State University, the University of Maryland at College Park and Prince George’s Community College.
If an elected board seat became vacant, the county executive could fill the seat.
Similar to the student board member, the president of the PTA would have limited voting power and would not be allowed to attend executive board sessions unless invited.
Most state lawmakers who represent Prince George’s agreed with Baker that changes to the school system are needed.
During a meeting with Baker and Jacobs on Saturday, several Prince George’s delegates described the frustrations of dealing with an 18,000-employee system that they said is often unresponsive to parents or anyone who might need assistance. They questioned whether the board was willing to be held accountable for the problems.
Miranda S. Spivack contributed to this report.