Prince George's school board adopts budget, cutting hundreds of jobs

By Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Class sizes will grow, several hundred people will be laid off and employees will be furloughed under the $1.63 billion budget adopted Monday by the Prince George's County Board of Education.

The budget, for fiscal 2011, represents a cut of almost 5 percent from spending levels now and is the worst of any Washington area school system in the number of jobs lost. Almost 800 positions are being cut, which translates into several hundred layoffs after accounting for retirements and attrition. In contrast, Montgomery County public schools will lay off two dozen employees.

"We did the best that we could, but clearly I'm not happy that employees are going to go through furloughs" and layoffs, said Chairman Verjeana M. Jacobs (At Large). She said she thought the class-size increases -- two students at every grade level except pre-kindergarten and kindergarten -- would be "manageable" but would require adjustment for teachers.

The cuts will affect many aspects of school life. Staff pay is frozen, and employees will be furloughed up to nine days. Lunch prices will increase 50 cents. The number of school bus drivers will be cut, which means rides will be longer and some students might have to take two buses.

The budget is not as stark as that proposed this spring, and staff face one less day of furloughs than initially expected. Many employees who were going to be converted from 12-month to 10-month employees will work 11 months instead.

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