In his first budget proposal as chief executive officer of Prince George's County Public Schools, Kevin Maxwell put forth a $1.75 billion operating budget for fiscal 2015 — an increase of $65.6 million, or 3.89 percent, from last year's approved $1.68 billion budget.
Maxwell, who presented his proposal to the Board of Education on Dec. 12, called the increase "modest." It is the first time the budget request has edged $1.7 billion; the past three years it has been in the range of $1.6 billion.
"This budget reflects the priorities which the board and I have discussed," Maxwell said in his presentation. "We are entering into an exciting time in Prince George's County. As a result of changes in the law last year, we will be partnering more closely with county leaders so we can improve educational outcomes and ensure that all of our students in our county, regardless of economic situation or where they live, can graduate from our schools ready for college and careers."
The budget focuses on four key areas, Maxwell said: funding student need, supporting employees, innovation and fiscal stability.
Maxwell's proposed budget includes $1.08 billion for salaries for the system's 18,000-plus employees, and sets aside $25.2 million for negotiations, professional development and a peer assistance review teacher evaluation system.
Maxwell proposed expanding career academies to all high schools through his budget, as well as expanding and enhancing creative and performing arts and language programs in elementary and middle schools. The budget proposal includes $21.78 million directed toward "high student achievement," he said in his proposal, which includes those expansions.
The expansion of career academies is part of the continued implementation of secondary school reform, or SSR, Maxwell said.
Focusing on expanding career academies through SSR, along with providing additional summer programs and a student support system, "will widen the number of students who can directly benefit" from the programs, Maxwell said.
The budget also includes funding for more full-day pre-kindergarten classes at eight additional schools, ensures at least a half-time professional school counselor at all schools and adds 20 more reading specialists to the payroll. The proposal designates $3.5 million to "restore parent liaisons at targeted sites," Maxwell wrote in his budget brief.
At the presentation, Maxwell said he's taken "advantage of every opportunity" to meet parents and community members, and has visited 82 of the county's 205 schools. He said he plans to visit all schools by the end of the academic year.
The board will hold a work session on the proposal Monday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. public hearing. A second public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. Another work session is set for Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 5 p.m. followed by a work session at 7 p.m. All board work sessions and public hearings are at the Sasscer Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.
The board will submit its final budget request to the county by March 1.