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Community members call for safer school conditions at budget forum


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Published on: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

By Amber Larkins

About 40 members of the community attended the Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Budget Forum at Walker Mill Middle School last Thursday.

“This is the biggest group we’ve ever had,” said Randall Pike, senior community outreach and engagement specialist for the school district.

Dwayne Brown, the television technician for PGCPS, said the process for each forum was basically the same.

“They go over the budget processes, take input and suggestions and then come back together to talk about what they wrote down,” Brown said.

People were split into three groups to answer three questions: which items the district should consider funding, specific efficiencies the district should consider and if there were any other ideas for the budget process.

“We want to know what you think we should be funding as a district,” PGCPS Interim Superintendent Alvin Crawley said.

Crawley left the meeting early in order to attend another meeting, but he let everyone know they could add extra comments on the website and that he would continue to update them.

“This is our budget,” Crawley said.

The groups reconvened after about an hour and a half of discussing the three questions.

People wanted more funding for SAT prep, college and career readiness, universal pre-k and new schools. They wanted nurses in every school, dilapidated schools to be brought up to standard, and for fully-funded media centers. They asked for money to be put towards middle school athletics, character education and a district-wide effort toward a five-star education for every student.

The community members thought that schools could work much more efficiently and be safer for students if the county would stop changing bus boundaries and routes. They advocated for neighborhood schools and safe bus stops.

They also suggested that health benefits for board members be cut because they are elected officials, not employees of the government. 

They suggested reducing layers of management because the Central Office gets a great deal of money but is furthest from the kids.

They wanted priority staffing to Prince George’s County Public Schools graduates and for all staff to be properly qualified, especially at the senior level, and for more transparency and better communication with the school system and Board of Education overall.

The forum attendees also requested all forums and meetings convene no earlier than 7 p.m. They also wanted to see a copy of last year’s budget and to go through it line by line. They also want to see the superintendent’s proposed budget before it goes to the Board of Education.

There will be work sessions to discuss the proposed budget, as well as public hearings on Jan. 29 and Feb. 19. The adoption of the 2014 budget is slated for Feb. 20, 2013.

When Crawley has finished his proposal, it will be available for public comment through the budget department.

“This process is very important, and without community input the whole process would be pointless,” Pike said.

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