The Prince George’s County school system would provide additional resources for charter schools and secondary school reform and make a larger investment in a program that allows principals to decide how money is spent in their schools under a spending plan presented by Interim Superintendent Alvin Crawley for 2014.
Crawley offered a brief overview Thursday night to the county school board, which will spend the next two months poring over documents before deciding on a budget for the school system.
He said the proposed $1.7 billion budget focuses on “the maintenance of core services” and provides the tools needed for academic success.
Crawley is asking for $1.4 million more from the county and $18.1 million more in state aid than last year. The current year’s budget is $1.6 billion.
He said the variable in the funding is how sequestration will affect the school system, which received $106 million from the federal government this year.
The board passed a resolution in October urging Congress to resolve the looming fiscal crisis and prevent automatic spending cuts from going into effect.
“It will have a great impact” on our school system, said school board chairman Verjeana M. Jacobs (District 5). Reductions would have to be made to the system’s share of Title I and Head Start funding.
In the past three years, Prince George’s has lost about 3,400 students in the public schools. Enrollment now stands at 123,833. During the same time, the number of children eligible for free or reduced meals has increased by nearly 6,000, to 73,000 students.
Crawley’s budget also recommends spending an additional $1.8 million for charter schools and $1.4 million to increase enrollment at the Academy of Health Sciences program at Prince George’s Community College by 100 students. There are 198 students in the program.
Crawley also wants to add a visual arts program at Northwestern High School and eliminate the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs at Crossland and Douglass high schools.
The budget proposal also sets aside $11.9 million for contract negotiations, $6 million for grievance settlements and $5.2 million for teacher pensions.
Board members will receive the entire budget next week.
Crawley has held numerous community forums over the past several months to gather information from community members about what they wanted to see in the budget and what they thought could be taken out.
Jacobs said she looks forward to reviewing the entire budget. “The details are going to tell the story,” she said.
The board will hold public hearings in January and February on the budget and submit its recommendations to the county executive’s office in March. The County Council will then hold hearings to decide how much funding the system should receive. The final budget will be adopted in June.