Tag Archives: General assembly

Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County school leaders face tough questioning from Maryland lawmakers

EB8BAF82-B4AA-42D0-9DFE-2F7C595729D6ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A confrontation played out in Annapolis between Prince George’s County leaders over the school system and how it is being run.

On Tuesday, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell and School Board chair Dr. Segun Eubanks faced tough questions from Prince George’s County state lawmakers who are considering changing the structure of the school system after a host of problems.

Several years ago, lawmakers voted to allow Baker extraordinary control over the school system after a high turnover of superintendents. It allowed Baker to select the superintendent as well as part of the school board. In most districts, an all-elected board chooses the superintendent.

Maryland State Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), the co-chair of the Prince George’s County House Delegation, asked about accountability.

“Who do we hold accountable for fraudulent graduation rates? Walker asked. “Who do we hold accountable for nepotism in the school system? Who do we hold accountable for graduates crying on their graduation day? Who do we held accountable for sexual predators taking advantage of our kids in our school system?”

In response, Baker said he is responsible. He didn’t point to his choice for head of schools and said he still stands behind Dr. Maxwell.

FOX 5 asked Baker what he says to those who believe the experiment to give him greater control over the school system has failed.

PGCPS CEO Maxwell to meet with lawmakers next week
“I would tell them to look at the progress we’ve made in Prince George’s County,” Baker said. “I think the number of people putting their children back in our school system, you look at the scholarships the children are getting, look at the programs that we’re coming up with.”

Walker said he has seen no evidence this system of governance benefits students.

“I asked [Baker] time and time again to show me something that has been better and there has been no indicators here,” Walker said. “It hasn’t been test scores, it hasn’t been attendance, it hasn’t been college readiness. So we need to find accountability.”

When asked if he had faith in Dr. Maxwell as head of Prince George’s County Public Schools, Walker responded, “Absolutely not.”

The process to potentially take away the county executive’s control of the school system is just beginning, with efforts underway to make it a reality this legislation session.

Baker is running for Maryland governor, so he is definitely leaving his county post later this year, but he said he will still fight for this governance structure of the school system because he believes it is best for the county.

via Fox5DC

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Md. General Assembly with respect to PGCPS athletic facilities.

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The following is the language based upon the budget actions taken by the General Assembly with respect to athletic facilities in the county for the Fiscal Year 2016 budget bill:
$2,800,000 as a grant to the Prince George’s County Office of the County Executive for the planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site work, and capital equipping of athletic facilities at the following public high schools:
(a)
Northwestern High School;
(b)
Suitland High School;
(c)
High Point High School; and
(d)
Bowie High School.
There is no mention of artificial turf, though, of course that is what the county intends it for. >>>Read our previous coverage. 
Given the debate over property tax rate increases for schools in Prince George’s, it is probably worth emailing the Governor, the County Exec and the Council that these monies should be used for renovation of grass fields and not for artificial turf.  if this is about finding funds to repair school fields then we have those for Prince George’s County Public Schools.
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Maryland General Assembly passes budget that widens split with Hogan.

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Maryland’s annual legislative session ended in a standoff Monday night, with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vowing not to spend money lawmakers allocated for schools and other priorities after the General Assembly refused to fund some of his budget requests.

In the closing hours of the 90-day session, the Senate and the House of Delegates voted along party lines to approve a spending plan that included less funding than Hogan sought to shore up the state pension fund and did not go as far as the governor wanted in trimming the state’s structural budget deficit.

As a result, Hogan said he would refuse to use money the legislature earmarked to preserve state pay raises, full funding for the most expensive school districts and several health-related initiatives. “In all likelihood, we will probably have to use the money [in future years] to fix the problem they created,” Hogan said.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said the negotiations with Hogan “put a real damper” on bipartisanship. “There’s going to have to be some wounds healed,” he said.

The split stood in stark contrast to the beginning of the 90-day session, when the Republican governor and the Democrats who control both houses of the legislature pledged to compromise for the good of the state. It also set off an immediate round of lobbying by education activists and advocates for the poor who urged the governor to use the funds in the budget as the legislature intended.

>>> Read more

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Md. Gov. Hogan wants to set up state grants that benefit private schools.

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan discusses the budget debate in the final week of the state’s legislative session during an interview in his office on Monday. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal to compensate companies for donating to private schools is one of many sticking points in budget negotiations with the General Assembly.

A supplemental budget proposal submitted by Hogan to the General Assembly last week does not fully fund public education, but it would provide $5 million to reimburse businesses for no more than 50 percent of the “certified amount” they contribute to a student assistance organization to provide financial assistance to students attending non-public schools.

Pushing for the grants that would benefit private and religious schools has elated non-public school administrators, angered public school parents and teachers, and divided lawmakers.

Hogan has called the Building Opportunities for All Students and Teachers (BOAST) Maryland Tax Credit “common sense reform.” Opponents call it a back-door maneuver to vouchers.

The grants are one of two education initiatives put forth by Hogan in his first year as governor. The other is an expansion of charter schools.

 House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said late last week that the effort to provide additional funding to private and religious schools as a “dividing point between Democrats and Republicans.

“There is tremendous resistance from a lot of people who believe strongly in public education that this is not the appropriate way to go and this has cost other states money and that we shouldn’t be diverting that money,” Busch said, noting that the state provides $10 million in grants to non-public schools to pay for textbooks, technology and infrastructure.

Ray Leone, president of the Maryland PTA, said the organization opposes Hogan’s proposal because it diverts funds from public schools.

“We urge you to stand up at this point for schools that serve all of Maryland’s children, and for protecting the integrity of regular order in the legislative process,” Leone said in a letter to members of the budget conference committee. “We do not believe that last-minute, privately-bartered deals regarding funding for education (or any other public service) inserted into budget conference committee reports that have not previously considered such issues are in the best interest of Maryland taxpayers and families.”

A bill that would provide tax credits to companies that donate to private and public schools has previously failed in the General Assembly.

>>> Read more

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Bucking Wishes of Most Maryland Voters

…and wishes of Gov. Hogan, Prince George’s Legislators Propose Higher Taxes and Spending.
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By D. C. Russell

In November 2014, the majority of Maryland voters chose the candidate offering lower taxes and reduced government spending over the candidate representing higher taxes and undisclosed increased budget deficits caused by out of control spending.Prince George’s County voters, on the other hand, voted for incumbents with a history of raising taxes, and for new candidates supported by those incumbents and their machines.  Price George’s voters essentially blessed the last eight years of over 40 tax and fee increases, increased spending, and ever-growing out of control “structural” deficits.So, although the financial winds may be starting to blow the other way for most of Maryland, Prince George’s voters my get what they voted for.  The new General Assembly session has barely started, but Prince George’s legislators are moving right ahead with more taxes and deficit spending.  Just a sampling:A bill (PG 413-15) with a misleading title, proposed by Delegates Walker and Washington, would create a new county sales tax.  This would be on top of the 20% increase in the state sales tax passed by the General Assembly just a few years ago.

Although the sponsors claim that the proceeds would be used for education, we all know from past experience that such promises mean little.  We heard the same kind of promise about the lottery, but much of that revenue we to subsidize stadiums for sports moguls, not for education.

Adding such a tax for just the county would help drive businesses and customers out of the county to surrounding, less greedy, better governed jurisdictions.  It would be the exact opposite of what we need for increased economic development or for the “high-end” businesses that our elected officials falsely claim to support.

Over the years there have been numerous media reports that Prince George’s resident bear the heaviest or second heaviest individual tax burden s in the state or the region.  Apparently Delegates Walker and Washington are not satisfied and want to gouge even more out of us.

The bag tax is back–or will it be a ban?

One bill (PG 415-15) by Senator Pinsky, that keeps rearing its ugly head would provide for a 5 cent tax on grocery bags.  The tax is simple, but what it would cover is not.  The wording is convoluted and discriminatory.

Another bill (PG 403-15) by Delegate Washington, would ban bags rather than tax them.

In both cases, these elected officials seem to have an animosity toward just one kind of business and would arbitrarily and capriciously tax or ban their bags while excepting identical and similar bags used by most other businesses.

And on the spending side:

Senators Miller and Peters and Delegate Walker are back with a bill (PG 407-15) to require artificial turf for school athletic fields.  The will be an unfunded mandate forced on the county without funding, and it is just one of several bills proposed to micro-manage county schools (more about that in another message).

There is a bill (MCPG 108-15) to increase the salary of WSSC members by over two-thirds.

There is a bill (PG 307-15) to increase the salaries of Prince George’s alcoholic beverage license commissioners.

And we still haven’t seen the usual plethora of “bond bills” (outright pork) or bills to establish new agencies or task forces to do what someone else should already be doing.

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Prince George’s officials brace for budget cuts from new governor

Leaders hope to make business case for education, other projects

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State Senator Douglas J.J. Peters (D.-Dist. 23) of Bowie -“We are preparing for the worst,” He said. 

Prince George’s County leaders in the General Assembly are bracing for possible cuts in state funding, and hope to make the case to the incoming governor that what’s good for the county is good for the state.

“We are preparing for the worst,” said State Senator Douglas J.J. Peters (D.-Dist. 23) of Bowie, speaking on Jan. 12 to the Greater Prince George’s County Business Roundtable during its annual Board of Directors meeting in Clinton. “I’m nervous about what’s coming down.”

Peters, who is chairman of the Prince George’s County Senate Delegation, said Governor-Elect Larry Hogan (R) will want to satisfy the people who supported him, and that doesn’t include the majority of Prince George’s County.

“We weren’t there for his election. We weren’t,” said Peters. “It was 85 [percent] to 15 [percent] for Lt. Governor Anthony Brown.”

Peters said the incoming governor will also want to make good on his campaign promises, most of which centered around cutting spending and taxes.

Hogan is facing a projected $1 billion budget shortfall when he is sworn in Jan. 21.

Peters said Hogan is expected to present his first budget to the General Assembly on Jan. 23.

“On Jan. 23, we will know exactly where we stand as a county with his budget,” Peters said.

Peters said the county faces the potential to lose funding in a number of projects including $40 million for the new regional medical center in Largo, $68 million for school construction and $40 million in school funding.

Del. Jay Walker (D-Dist. 26) of Fort Washington said the county needs to decide what things are most important to fight for and keep funded.

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Kudos to the General Assembly for reform efforts.

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We are Prince George’s County Public School District (PGCPS) observers in 15th and 32nd year, and we support the current bill HB 1107 and any related bill in the Maryland General Assembly. What has really gotten stuck in our craw most has been the imperial, patronizing manner in which the PGCPS leadership led by Ms. Verjeana Jacobs has been conducting its business.

Even if these members have been defeated for the superintendent position, they still pose a “clear and present danger”. They should never be allowed near the school board leadership in any capacity of authority or influence. The Prince George’s County Board leadership is a disgrace. We should make ensure that there is no way they can weasel their way into the board leadership ever again. The new Superintendent should do everything in his or her power to be the true new broom and sweep out the mess. The facts about ruthless and unethical board aspirants is detailed below. Every parent and concerned citizen of this county should ensure that the past never repeats itself. We owe our children at least that much. Vigilance starts with proactive action.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Alvin L. Crawley arrived seven months ago spouting transparency and community engagement, but what we’ve mostly gotten has been something far less. Several students have died, corruption continues as usual and He does not communicate properly. His first thing on the job was to block communication with PG parents tweeter feed unprovoked. (See Attachment) His tweeter feed only tweets on occasion and he lacks proper communication skills, yet he wanted to be the next superintendent.

Prince George’s County Public School District Chairperson Ms. Verjeana Jacobs and the Board members set the stage by surreptitiously hiring lobbyists to lobby the state Legislature to defeat several House Bills including HB 1107 introduced in Annapolis recently because corruption, nepotism and professional misconduct within the schools. This way, the current situation remains the same. Their effort to defeat the bills fell flat and became a public embarrassment.

In response, however, Board Chairperson Verjeana Jacobs and several Board members said Monday that the board would reopen the search for a new superintendent if that would fend off a proposed takeover plan under consideration in Annapolis. “We are still ready and willing to look at this superintendent process again, “Jacobs told a joint hearing of the Prince George’s House and Senate delegations. “Let’s get rid of the elephant in the room.” (See the story here)

“It was the first concession that Jacobs has made in the battle over County Executive Rushern L. Baker’s III plan to take over the school system. The unexpected announcement comes after school officials were closing in on picking the county’s next superintendent, which would be the eighth in 14 years”. As reported by Washington post. We support the bill and we hope to see changes as soon as possible.

Up to this point in PGCPS, we have seen what has become a pattern: there is an insular, preordained agenda going forward, and whenever there is sound pushback, if not a firestorm of public disapproval and outrage, the PGCPS leadership delivers measured comments to mollify the malcontents no matter how incongruous the rationale. Verjeana Jacobs’s notion “to reopen the superintendent search process, improve the quality of teachers’ experiences” is in stark contrast to the ominous proposals that will more likely discourage longevity. Dr. Alvin L. Crawley and Ms. Verjeana Jacobs appears willing to see teachers scrounge, beg and go out-of-pocket, or do without chairs, desks, books, paper, tape and sundry other necessities often taken for granted. Also, if they accepts the premise that there needs to be a stronger principal pipeline, then how do you give them such power to wield without safeguards, such as due process? And, too, wouldn’t their justification for non-union raises also apply to teachers, among others? How about interfering with hearing examiner by bribing and other incentives?  It is that arbitrariness that all employees dread.

The Board of Education (BOE) members and the PGCPS Union leadership and their cohorts are like a junta ruling by fiat, disconnected from the community denizens. They are not fooling anyone with their placating, after-the-fact patchwork rationales that diametrically contradict their own actions. The only transparency that has come to light is that they think that teachers, support staff, parents and the public are that gullible, or just not as smart as a third-grader. In the process, they appear disingenuous and are only losing credibility and fomenting distrust. Every keen observer is aware what has been going on behind the scenes at Sasscer (PGCPS HQ).

To our distinguished veteran colleagues, don’t let the door hit you on the way out as you defend the dysfunctional status quo.

To all involved parents that currently have children enrolled in Prince George’s County Public Schools, our voices were heard. Thank you for sending your concerns to those that have the power to vote our voice.

For the first time in a very long time, our PGCPS teachers, administrators and staff will receive classroom resources they need, our children will be provided additional assistance, albeit transportation/ELL resources, and systemic academic opportunities.

Ms. Verjeana Jacob’s continuation as a Board Chair and continuing the corruption is a perpetuation of a culture of impunity. We must demand an end to that and new leadership led by the County Executive Rushen Baker .

Kudos to the Prince George’s delegation in Annapolis who have decided to endorse changes within our County. We give the County Executive and the new Superintendent our total support and wish him or her well. However, we will hold him or her accountable and will not repeat the blind and unchecked support of years part. This has been actually lesson learnt at the expense of our children’s lives and reputation of the schools which languish at the bottom of all schools in Maryland.

We have one  fugitive former superintendent  hiding as a refugee superintendent in Philadelphia where his fortunes are beginning to unravel. Let us bring him back to justice and make him answer for his well documented crimes of neglect and malice.

It is a Sad day for the lobbyists in Annapolis and the Board lawyers involved in “NO Bid contracts” against the state law!!! BOOHOO!