Comments to the County Council Regarding the PGCPS Budget
From the May 11, 2011 County Council Public Budget Hearing:
Good evening Chairwoman Turner, Vice-Chair Olson, honorable members of County Council, County staff, and fellow residents. My primary reason for being here is that I am a concerned parent worried about how funds are being spent on our schools. The School Board had to make many painful cuts that were approved in their FY 2012 budget. While some monies have been restored, hundreds of Prince George’s County Public Schools teachers have been told that they no longer have jobs after June 30, 2011. Fewer teachers means more students in every classroom, and I’m sure you know that means for the quality of my children’s education.
Meanwhile, the School Board convinced us that if we went to Annapolis and requested that $20 million be reinstated into their budget, they could avoid teacher layoffs. We did that, and the Maryland General Assembly reinstated $14 million of the State’s contribution back to Prince George’s County budget, while the County Executive committed an additional $17 million in his proposed budget. They have now received an additional $31 million, which puts them back at the 2011 funding level. So why are teachers, guidance counselors, media specialists, and other educators still being laid off? This is one of many unanswered questions you must address before you approve the final FY 2012 budget.
When you’re looking for answers to these questions, I suggest that you begin by examining the 723 PGCPS staff who make more than $100,000, because only 51 of those employees are directly involved in educating our children. Many central office staff are mid-level bureaucrats who do no demonstrate any value added in achieving the goals of the School’s Master Plan or put children first. Additionally, these central office staff are directly to blame for the mistakes that were made in hiring foreign teachers that have cost tapayers $5.9 million in federal fines and back wages. I urge you to ask Dr. Hite and the School Board to look at where else cuts can be made and keep teachers in our classrooms.
I’ll end by sharing a quote I have used as I have traveled around this county speaking about this issue: ” We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, but we forget that he is someone today.” My oldest daughter will be entering kindergarten soon, and I have made the difficult decision to enroll her in a private school, because I have lost faith in our public schools’ capacity to provide her with the best education. Please restore my confidence by asking tough questions about the PGCPS budget now, because we can’t afford to wait until tomorrow for the answers.