The Prince George’s County Board of Education voted on a $1.6 billion budget Thursday that calls for nearly the same amount in spending as this year’s plan.

“This budget is markedly different from some past years where we have suffered through [layoffs] and furloughs,” said Verjeana M. Jacobs (District 5), the school board chair.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins in July, is a 2 percent increase over this year.

The board is asking the county to contribute $617.5 million toward the budget, which is the amount the county currently provides. The rest of the funding comes from the state and federal governments.

Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr. (L) and Council member Samuel H. Dean(R) greeted students as they entered the new Barack Obama elementary school on Aug. 23, 2010 in Upper Marlboro, Md. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

One change: The board opted to add a media specialist at every high school, restoring positions that have been slashed in previous years.

The spending plan now moves to the County Council, which has to decide how much the schools should receive.

Still unresolved is whether the state will shift a large portion of pension costs to local governments, as Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has proposed.

Also, I wanted to take this moment to introduce myself to the readers of Maryland Schools Insider.

I’m the new reporter covering education in Prince George’s County. I’m familiar with Prince George’s, having worked in the county for the past eight years covering government and politics and, most recently, development. I came to The Washington Post after working for two years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, covering the statehouse.

I look forward to delving into the school system, writing stories about what is happening inside the classrooms, how policies are being implemented by the administration, and how taxpayer dollars are being spent. Feel free to contact me at and follow me on twitter @ovettawashpost.

Check out some of my recent stories and blog items, including a story about the rise in number of charter schools in the county; questions about a meeting between Hite and prospective school board members, and the school system’s first Chinese immersion program. Monday’s paper takes a look at proposed regulations by the Maryland State Board of Education, which are opposed by the Montgomery County ACLU and NAACP. Stay tuned, the state board votes Tuesday.