Prince George’s officials unveil suspicious five-year plan for school system.

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Prince George’s County School System CEO Kevin Maxwell is asking county residents to imagine a school system where 90 percent of students graduate on time, all graduates are college and career ready, and test scores meet or exceed the state average — goals he says are attainable by 2020 with increased funding.

“We will move this school system forward and be in the top 10 in the state by 2020,” Maxwell said after unveiling his 2020 Strategic Plan at the March 26 school board meeting, held at Suitland High School.

Over 100 people attended.

The Strategic Plan that Maxwell unveiled identifies five broad areas where improvement is needed to reach his 2020 goal — academics, workforce development, safe and modernized facilities, community engagement and organizational effectiveness — and the improvements needed to reach Maxwell’s 2020 goals.

Maxwell is asking for an additional $133 million in county funding to support the Strategic Plan, which he said is based on data obtained from his Transition Team report and numerous studies and surveys of the school system.

According to the Strategic Plan, additional funding would be used to develop a digital literacy program, expand full-day prekindergarten, expand Gifted and Talented, dual enrollment, career academy, foreign language and International Baccalaureate programs, increase teacher compensation and mentoring, expedite facilities maintenance and other initiatives.

To fund the increase, County Executive Rushern L. Baker III has proposed raising property taxes by 15 percent, and to raise the telecommunications tax from 8 to 12 percent. His budget is in the hands of the County Council, which must approve a budget by June 1.

“This is the end of a nearly two-year process, thousands of hours of research, discussion, reflection, designing and planning by over 100 subject matter experts at the school and central office level,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell pointed to last year’s 2.6 percentage point increase in the county graduation rate from 74.1 to 76.6, the highest in at least five years, as evidence the county can make consistent, measured progress toward its goals. The state’s four-year graduation rate is 86.4 percent.

“If we continue to grow at that rate, we should reach our goal in five years,” Maxwell said.

Shawn Joseph, deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, said the school system would report regularly to the public on what progress was being made.

“We will submit a formal report on our progress towards the 2020 goals, our lead indicators at the end of each year and will summarize the work of our strategy teams as we move forward,” Joseph said.

“We need to decide whether we are going to take this opportunity to move towards greatness … or whether or not we will settle for being good, but not great,” said school board chairman Segun Eubanks.

Upper Marlboro resident Tonya Wingfield said that in her experience, a strategic plan should have been released before the budget, which was approved by the board Feb. 24.

“This seems to be backwards,” Wingfield said. “Approving a budget and then scrambling to build a strategic plan to support that budget in any business environment is a formula for failure.”

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