“The County Council added $7.5 million to the Board of Education Budget to restore funding for specialty program bus service, Reading Recovery, HeadStart/PreK, and Camp Schmidt,” is what citizens who receive Councilman Eric Olson’s newsletter read about the issue of specialty school transportation. However “the budget today, regardless of what the council says, does not include a restoration of transportation for these programs,” is what other parents heard when they called the office of Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the Prince George’s County Public Schools. After seeing these two view points you can imagine how parents who are still getting acceptance letters with deadlines to make decisions can be confused and even angry.
“It is clear to me that the left hand has no idea of what the right hand is supposed to do,” said Gina Thompson whose daughter was just admitted to one of the specialty programs. “How can they tell us here your daughter has just got accepted, she can come, we need you to sign the paper by today accepting or she won’t be able to come but we can’t tell you if she will have a bus to get there or not?”
A constituent services representative for one of the Prince George’s County Councilmembers, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to publicly on the issue, blasted the school system, “Our office is fielding dozens of calls a day about this and the least they could do is provide some type of clarity for parents to know what is going to happen.” These comments weren’t unlike what a dozen legislative aides to the county delegation’s delegates and senators also say they are experiencing.
So what is real?
Councilman Eric Olson is correct in saying the Prince George’s County Council did provide the school system with the funds they needed to save the troubled transportation program for specialty schools. Technically Dr. Hite’s office is also correct that there has not been a change in the system budget. In order for the program to be saved Dr. Hite will need to submit a formal change to the school board by June 15th and a formal board vote on June 20th. The problem is that is what is what could had been explained from the Office of the Superintendent in order to give parents some help in making these important decisions. “We know the funding has been saved, there are some legal things that have to happen but the buses will continue,” said the constituent representative from the county council.