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Prince George's school board approves $1.6 billion budget

The Prince George's County Board of Education last week approved a $1.687 billion budget for fiscal year 2014, up $23.3 million from last year.

The budget is approximately $5.5 million below the original request put forth by the board earlier this year. It includes $942 million from the state, $624 million from the county, $106 million from the federal government and $15 million in "board sources," according to a news release from the school system. For the past several years, the budget has been held in the $1.6 billion range.

"This budget is in line with our priorities and allows us to make improvements on several fronts," Interim Superintendent Alvin Crawley said in the release. "Knowing this budget season would be challenging, our team focused on priorities that support student needs, encourage innovation, maintain fiscal stability and support employees."

Crawley remains in his position as interim superintendent while the contract with new Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell is finalized.

This is the first budget approved by the new school board, which now has 14 members; three were appointed by County Executive Rushern Baker III and one by the County Council. The changes came after the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation allowing Baker to take more control of the system.

Segun Eubanks, the new board chairman appointed by Baker, lauded the new budget and said it would "keep us on solid footing for the upcoming school year."

"Providing a quality education for students remains our top priority," he said in a release. "We commend our staff for working diligently throughout the budget development process to identify additional cost savings, revenue sources and ways to streamline services."

According to the school system, the budget will not require reserve funds to balance it. The budget includes money for employee pay raises, and will allow continued support for alternative education; Middle College programs, which are secondary schools on college campuses; Talented and Gifted programs; and secondary school reform initiatives The budget will also support the county's Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative and expand grades in the current charter schools.

Additionally, the budget allows the system to eliminate the $50 athletic fee for student athletes for the upcoming school year.

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