Introduced in the Maryland legislature, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, born from Kirwan Commission recommendations, increases education funding for the next two years by more than $1 billion — a bold demonstration that Maryland values every student in every grade, classroom and neighborhood. This investment starts well before high school, in the earliest years of education through prekindergarten and other early learning programs. Expanding access to pre-K programs makes a lasting difference in the lives of our youngest community members. Pre-K is an early indicator of how well students will perform over time and set them on a true pathway toward success. With more than 84,000 students in PGCPS coming from families with low incomes, pre-K expansion will provide a strong start on the path that leads to college or a career.
As the second-largest school system in Maryland, Prince George’s County serves more than 130,000 students who deserve the best education we can provide throughout our 207 public schools. We have more than 10,000 teachers who give tirelessly of themselves and for decades have been asked to do more with less. We need the resources to pay our teachers a competitive salary here at home so we stop losing our best and brightest to surrounding jurisdictions.
But to produce a high-quality education, investments cannot be limited to people. You must also invest in the place where students learn and teachers teach. When I walk the halls of the schools that educated me, I am shocked by how little their appearance has changed since I was a student. In 2005, Prince George’s County schools were already nearly five years older than the state average, and the deviation has only increased since then. State funding has not kept pace with our school system’s growth. Our older facilities require extensive repair to critical building infrastructure like plumbing, roofing, electrical systems and ventilation, all of which impact the learning environment.
Every student deserves a school that is a palace for learning, no matter their Zip code. Without modern facilities, we are falling short of our moral and constitutional obligation to provide the best for our students.
PGCPS has advocated for an innovative public-private partnership legislative proposal to invest more than $1.8 billion into school construction, allowing us to build nearly 20 schools in just seven years. This partnership would allow us to maintain and build new schools in a shorter time frame and at a lower cost than traditional funding processes allow.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and school construction partnership legislation are the right bills at the right time to help Prince George’s County Schools prosper.
Labor leaders, elected officials, parents and even students have all voiced their support for this important legislation as an investment in our youth, families and communities. I have not seen an effort like this in more than 20 years. This represents a collective commitment to ending the cycle of underrepresentation and underfunding of Prince George’s County Public Schools. Every dollar that Prince George’s County students deserve should come their way.
The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and our innovative school construction partnership have been years in the making. Now, legislators must decide how to fund our state’s most precious priority. Maryland’s future requires a strong Prince George’s County. We are the most diverse school system in the state with the highest number of students living in poverty. Our students deserve every chance for success. Now is the time to invest in their futures.