Tag Archives: General assembly

Md.’s Hogan to withhold extra funding for high-cost school systems this year

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that he will withhold $68 million in funding for high-cost school systems this year, thwarting the wishes of Democratic legislators and top officials in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

The General Assembly passed a measure in April requiring the state to fully fund a program that sends extra money to the state’s costliest school systems.

While Hogan (R) said at a news conference Thursday that he will not veto the funding measure, he also signaled his distaste for the bill by announcing that the full spending would not flow until next fiscal year.

“This is more mandated spending, which is a bad idea,” he said.

With the governor’s decision not to release the $68 million this year, at least part of the withheld money will go toward funding public-employee pensions, which the administration has named as one of its top priorities.

The decision is a particular setback for Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, which would have received $20 million and $17 million in extra money, respectively. Those counties — both of which voted overwhelmingly for Hogan’s Democratic opponent in the November election — are also waiting anxiously to hear whether the new governor will cancel plans for the light-rail Purple Line, which would connect New Carrollton and Bethesda.

Teachers, lawmakers and local leaders quickly criticized Hogan’s action.

“His continued insistence on shortchanging $68 million from our schools is going to have a direct impact on student learning in the coming school year, and that’s in­cred­ibly disappointing,” said Sean Johnson, a lobbyist for the Maryland State Education Association.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) called Hogan’s decision a “declaration of war on the children of the state of Maryland.”

Miller noted that Maryland’s schools have repeatedly ranked among the best in the country in recent years, adding, “I wonder where we’ll fall next year.”

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said Hogan’s decision will “put his relationship in a very tenuous situation with [jurisdictions] like Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore.”

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) expressed disappointment with the governor’s announcement. “This is a tremendous need for the county and for the state,” he said.

Hogan agreed earlier this year to provide half of the $136 million needed to fully fund a supplement to the state’s costliest school systems under a formula known as the Geographic Cost of Education Index. The legislature responded with a bill requiring the state to fund the full amount beginning in the next fiscal year, and the governor decided Thursday not to veto the measure.

Since the end of the legislative session, the governor has faced incessant lobbying from teachers unions, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and many others to release the funds.

Hogan noted Thursday that he has increased education spending to a record high and that he is the only governor to approve the index-based funding — which he described as “bonus money” — during his first year in office.

“It takes more than just money to solve the problems we have in education,” Hogan said. “My administration is committed to improving and to fully funding education at every level, and we are going to put our money where our mouth is.”

Johnson, the union official, said that per-student spending has declined despite the rise in total education funding and that the recommended amounts for high-cost school systems have been fully funded for six consecutive years.

“We don’t go backwards on our kids,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the first term of Governor Hogan, we have.”

Johnson also criticized Hogan’s use of the term “bonus money” to describe the funds.

“It’s not bonus money,” he said. “This is about personnel. This will have a definite impact on the number of teachers we have in the system.”

Hogan aides countered that the statewide average on per-student spending has increased. And Hogan has repeatedly suggested that the school systems need more accountability rather than extra funds.

“What we will not do is rob the pensions of Maryland citizens at the demand of special-interest groups and politicians who repeatedly choose to throw more and more of our hard-earned tax dollars at problems instead of actually focusing on finding real solutions,” he said Thursday.

Hogan also criticized the city of Baltimore for reducing its spending on education over the past two years. “It’s our top priority,” he said. “It’s apparently not theirs.”

Baltimore will miss out on $11 million this year because of the governor’s decision.

Johnson said local governments “definitely have a responsibility to keep up with their funding,” but he said the General Assembly has passed legislation in recent years requiring districts to maintain per-student spending levels.

“This is disappointing that the state is going to do less while local governments are, in fact, maintaining if not in most cases doing more,” he said.

via Washington post

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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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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 MD 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!

Prince Georges House Delegation

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We are all very desperate for schools improvement; however, this is not enough to justify adopting a proposal which needs a further amendment for now. The fact that it has provoked such emphatic opposition from some of the stakeholders is also ample reason to review it further. Nothing is perfect and mistakes can be corrected here and there if detected early. For example, rather than taking away the bargaining roles of the unions, this can be strengthened. However, Unions themselves needs to have a strong oversight to make them accountable and to keep them transparent.  There is no need for them to take money from employees and refuse to represent them properly or not at all.

We definitely do not want this issue to drag out any further.  It will just continue to damage an already-broken system with an already terrible reputation. Mr. Baker should cut the bait, but all actors must DEMAND greater accountability and performance metrics from every level of PGCPS. An Inspector General should be appointed to address the issues heads on. It is not fair to be the toilet bowl of education in the whole state of Maryland.

Let us please dismiss the canard that more money is the solution here. PGCPS has been getting more money to educate fewer students for many years; cash cannot compensate for cultural deficits, demographic hurdles, little-to-no accountability, and families which do not show a commitment to learning. PGCPS has long been a magnet for dysfunction—and the poles must be reversed.

We are pleased to read from the Washington Post that Mrs. Jacobs and Mr. Baker are going to meet. This is a good start. It is too bad it had to get to this point for that to happen.

We disagree that the individuals in the Washington Post article represent the voices of all, majority, or minority volume of parent groups. All of us that have been following this very serious issue most certainly do not feel “betrayed”. Surprised, yes, but not “betrayed”. Mr. Baker and the County delegation in Annapolis needs our support and should move quickly to address the issues. Mr. Baker and the County delegation should also be flexible when dealing with those who support them and address the matters without any further delay. This way, Mr. Baker could avoid making the same mistakes Washington DC made during the Ms. Michelle Rhee reign from 2007 to 2010.

In addition, We wish individuals and organizations would speak ONLY for themselves when providing their individual opinions and concerns and leave “WE” out of their dialogue in this important change. (See Washington post article)

WE Prince Georges County residents, especially those of us that have kids enrolled in PGCPS, have the ability to speak and think for ourselves and hope our voices are heard now more than ever. Several organizations who benefit from dysfunctional Unions and other connected individuals to the bootless Board of Education are the ones making the loudest noise. We understand their dilemma “Shifting the roles to the County Executive office is like taking away a cake just before they eat”. The dysfunction must be addressed properly otherwise, there will be “an Arab spring right here in PG county in 2014”. Our group is monitoring and we are in touch with many grassroots individuals and organizations who will be voting in the next election. The hot potato must be handled with caution and problems fixed properly right away.

Contact your representatives

They are looking to hear from their constituents.

Here is the contact information:

Maryland Legislature – Elected Officials

Website: ~~> Prince George’s County Delegation

Delegation Also Accepting Written Testimony on School Board Changes

Prince George’s County Delegation Chair Jolene Ivey is inviting members of the public to write their suggestions and comments on a new proposal to change the county school board.

Members of the public are encouraged to send their written testimony on amendments released yesterday that would alter the membership and operations of the county board of education. Testimony should be sent to the delegation office by email at pg2@mlis.state.md.us by March 27, 2013.” You can also email us your input by email to us at reformsasscer@gmail.com. We will be talking to the elected representatives.

It takes time to clear with the General assembly once they receive your suggestions and feedback. The data has to be analyzed to make sure everything is accounted for and goes on smoothly to cover each corner. They have to get it right. Integrity supersedes speed here but we are trying, aren’t we?

Thank you for your continued engagement on our social media platforms. Keep up the pressure!

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