The impact of continuing funding woes will mean a "significant deterioration" of the Prince George's County schools, according to a citizen task force report released yesterday.
The report, commissioned by County Executive Parris Glendening, concluded that a one-cent increase in the sales tax or a half percent boost in income taxes paid by county residents is necessary to avoid further massive cuts in the school budget. Since the report was written, Glendening, who is facing a projected $35 million budget shortfall this year, has learned that the sales tax increase is politically impossible and said he is "no longer pursuing it".
However, Glendening said that the possible increase in the income tax is "very much alive" with the county delegation in Annapolis and Gov. Harry Hughes. Glendening said that other measures that would to aid the schools, which consume 60 percent of the county budget, include an increase in the personal property tax and a plan to increase the county's share of the proceeds from the sale of surplus school buildings.
The school board has closed some 57 schools since 1977. Closed schools are turned over to the county for sale but the net proceeds after paying state and county bond indebtedness are often returned to the state.
"There's no question that there is an equity argument on their side but there is a strong need argument on our side," said Glendening.
The task force was cochaired by school board member Bonnie Johns, who said the public might not realize that too much has already been cut from the schools.