Thursday the Prince George’s County Board of Education moved to fire two holdovers from former superintendent Dr. Hite’s cabinet, CFO Matthew Stanski and Chief Legal Advisor/General Counsel Roger Thomas. According to sources the board was informed that after former HR chief Synthia Shilling resigned her post before facing charges of hitting and running from the scene of an accident in July, Stanski approved a six figure check as severance pay without the approval of the board. The resignations of Stanski and Thomas leave the school system with two more vacancies at a time when the board is struggling to fill roles already left open after Dr. Hite and his deputy Dr. Coleman-Potter departed this summer for other positions. In addition to searching for a new superintendent, deputy superintendent, now CFO, Chief Legal Counsel, and human resources head, the board also has a vacancy in the office of Student Services after the former chief resigned at the end of the summer as well. Oretha Bridgwaters-Simms, who recently retired from the system was named Acting Chief of Student Services. In the Office of the General Counsel alone now two of the four positions are now vacant. “They have to face the music, get from behind the closed door, and inform the public just what they are doing to fill these important posts,” said a source who works for the central office but asked not to be identified.
Verjeana Jacobs, chair of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, released the following public service announcement in the hopes of getting community support and input in the search for the next superintendent of schools.
A coalition of educational advocates will present their 3rd annual inside look at the Prince George’s County Public Schools for candidates running for the Board of Education. The event, which is open to the public, will feature topics like the achievement gap, ethics and the difference between the capital and operating budgets.
Earlier this year Dr. Hite held a closed-door meeting with the candidates resulting in criticism by some of an appearance to influence the politics of the board. Hite denied the charges saying he only wanted to provide an overview of many of the things facing the system.
Saturday, March 17
9201 Basil Court, Largo
SCHOOL BOARD ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
How our School System is Governed
–FEDERAL AND STATE LEGISLATION
–PARENT & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
–STUDENT DISCIPLINE & TRUANCY
–THE NEXT FOUR YEARS
–and MUCH MORE!
or call Jan Hagey (301) 464-0171
Dave Cahn (301) 627-5126
Fresh off a long, confusing, and heated budget debate that just ended a few months ago, Superintendent Hite is busy preparing for the 2012-2013 budget which promises to be even tougher with more cuts to popular programs. To begin the process Hite is hosting an Operating Budget Hearing on October 19th at 7PM possibly at the Board of Education headquarters however the official press communication doesn’t mention a location. The public is invited to attend.
Last year’s budget saw cuts to popular programs, the enactment of a surcharge for high school athletes, and the threat to cut transportation for students attending specialty schools. The cut to transportation was saved at the last-minute by an infusion of money from the County Council and Executive Rushern Baker. This year with the threat of another recession and a huge budget gap by the county, no one is expecting a last-minute infusion of money from either the county our state. “Last year’s budget will be nothing compared to what we expect to face next year,” a member of the Prince George’s County Educators Association said.
The public hearing will likely be used to help frame the budget proposal Dr. Hite introduces to the Board of Education later this year. That proposal will go to the board for review, public hearings, and revisions before it is approved by the board and sent to the County Council for review and back to the board for final approval.
Other PGCPS important meetings or hearing this week include:
October 12 • 6 p.m.
The Board of Education’s Disability Issues Advisory Board (DIAB) meets every other month to discuss ADA issues and make recommendations on policies, procedures, and to help ensure that the needs of students and staff who are disabled are met.
October 13 • 1 p.m.
The Board of Education Meeting is open to the public. Interested persons may speak for three minutes by registering with the Board Office by 10:30 a.m. the day of the meeting.
CIP & FAB Committee Meeting
October 19 • 5 p.m.
The CIP & FAB Committee focuses on issues pertaining to renovation and new school construction, and school system financial matters.
This week Maryland State Delegate Jolene Ivey (D- Cheverly) wrote to community groups and listserves asking residents for their thoughts on ways the legislature could help resolve a transportation issue in the county.
In the budget presented by Superintendent Dr. William Hite busing for students going to out-of-boundary schools or specialty schools, would be eliminated. During the board meeting before the plan was adopted Hite said after his proposal returned from the county council where it must also be approved for final approval by the board of education he hoped to also present a plan where parents of these students could keep school buses for their children by paying a fee. That plan ran into a bump when Ivey announced the results of an Attorney General’s opinion which said any attempt to enact the fee without legislative approval would be a violation of the constitution.
Now less than two weeks before the General Assembly adjourns for the year (maybe they are rumored to be returning in the summer for a special redistricting session) legislators from the county are rushing to help find a solution. Three proposals Ivey announced that are under consideration are allowing the buses to be eliminated, enacting the law the schools need to allow for the fee, or the county passing a telephone tax which could be directed for public school transportation.
We asked our readers to weigh in on the questions and the results are finally in!
The legislature passing a law allowing the school district to charge a fee for “specialty” school busing — 138 votes
A telephone tax spread countywide directed toward school transportation funding — 128 votes
Elimination of transportation for “specialty” school busing — 8 votes
District 47 Delegate Jolene Ivey announced today that on the request of Prince George’s County Superintendent Dr. William Hite she sought an Attorney General opinion on his plan to require a fee for specialty school busing programs. The result of that opinion isn’t good news for the superintendent or the board of education who continues to struggle with balancing their budget.
Specialty programs are schools students attend that are not their regular district school. Most students attend these schools for performance arts or other such programs and because the schools are open to students all over the county transportation costs are far higher than traditional buses. According to numbers from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer of PGCPS the system pays about $1,900 per student a year in these programs for buses compared to just over $400 for students who take buses to their district boundary schools.
Earlier this month to balance the school system’s budget Dr. Hite and a majority of the board approved a budget eliminating transportation for specialty programs. Before the board voted Dr. Hite responded to a question from members his administration is working on plans to reconstitute transportation for the schools but based on a fee scale which they would adopt after the budget came back from the County Council. With news of the Attorney General’s opinion today it seems like that option might be off the table.
In a statement emailed to constituents and community groups today, Delegate Ivey announced that the Attorney General’s opinion found that any fee to transport students to or from school would be in violation of the constitution. In her statement she writes that she and the rest of the delegation are working hard to “bring more money back from Annapolis for our schools”.
Dr. Hite nor members from the Prince George’s County Board of Education have responded to news of the ruling. On February 25th the board adopted Dr. Hite’s proposed budget 8-1 with Edward Burroughs voting no. The budget has been sent to the county council who must now decide just how much county funds will be given to supply the budget. Executive Rushern Baker proposed a modest increase in his proposal to the council who have promised to review it closely before signing off.
Full Statement from Jolene Ivey
Dear Parents,Dr. Hite recently asked me to request an opinion from the Attorney General about the constitutionality of charging for transporting students to school. The short answer is that it is not constitutional. The full answer is attached.We’re doing all we can to bring more money back from Annapolis for our schools, so perhaps this path wouldn’t have been taken, anyway. I hate the idea of only offering half-day kindergarten, cutting reading specialists for struggling first-graders or having fewer media specialists. None of these is a good idea, but they’re all constitutional.I have 4 children in specialty programs and wasn’t relishing the idea of paying for transportation, so I’m relieved, just like many of you are, that the Attorney General has found that we can’t take this path. I know the money will have to come from somewhere to pay for all the programs that make for a great education for our children. In my opinion, cuts shouldn’t impact the youngest learners. We’re doing all we can here in Annapolis to minimize cuts to education, and I hope you’re all thinking about how to find the money to pay for our priorities, too.Sincerely,Jolene Ivey
Delegate, District 47