Tag Archives: school system

PGCPS Board of Education swears in new student member

BOE_Ava_02Ava Perry is not an ordinary high school senior. This year, along with classes, senior projects and college applications, Perry is also taking on the task of serving the Prince George’s County Public Schools Board of Education as its student member.

Perry is an incoming senior at Oxon Hill High School and will turn 17 next month. She said she wanted to serve on the board to be the “eyes and ears” of the students. She has previously held positions on the Prince George’s Regional Association of Student Government, and also as student body president at her high school.

“I’ve been in Prince George’s County since kindergarten and I’ve grown up through the school system,” she said. “I’ve seen how it inspires kids and the improvements that they’ve made. But what made me want to do this was just really my passion for improving policy. It’s something that is not the best within our school system, but we’ve made great strides.”

Perry was elected to serve earlier this year by her peers. She was sworn in on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at a ceremony in the Sasscer Administration Building. The process of nomination involves an application, multiple letters of recommendation, an interview, a selection of the final two candidates, and a vote after a speech in front of hundreds of students.

“It was exciting,” Perry said. “I was ecstatic when I was elected, because you never know. Where do you go from here? All the work that you put in and all the people that you meet are just so inspiring.”

She said as the elected student member she wants to continue to hear students’ stories and be a voice for their triumphs and struggles. She also wants to make sure students have a greater support system, both inside and outside of their schools.

“What I really want to push for is student support in the form of tutoring,” Perry said.

Perry visited 13 schools while campaigning for the board and found that tutoring was the main concern.

“This showed up at every single high school and middle school I visited,” she said. “And they said they need support. Common core is really taking a toll on them and they need support.

Jeffery Taylor II, the previous student board member, said Perry’s dedication to the students is exactly why she will make a great member.

“I truly enjoy her character, her motivation for service, her communication skills, and her love for advocacy,” he said. “I truly think she is going to make an amazing student member of the board of education.”

Taylor said a student’s service on the board is important because it gives a voice to the other 125,000-plus students in the school system. He said the position is a large task to take on, but it is unlike any other.

“At first it can be a little intimidating because you are 16, 17, maybe 18 and are sitting next to adults, but at the end of the day the members of the board of education are truly open and inviting. They know how to truly help you acclimate and truly serve.”

Segun Eubanks, the chair of the board, is excited to work with Perry. He is impressed with her ambition and her passionate advocacy for students needs. He said having a student voice on the board is “absolutely essential.”

“We represent students. Everything we do is for students,” Eubanks said. “To do this work, and not have the voice of the students in the room, would be disingenuous to what we say our mission is all about. So to have students who are committed, who are ambitious, and are intelligent. Who understand what it is the students need and want and what their challenges are. That keeps us honest.”

As the school year approaches Perry said she is ready to tackle her last year in the school system and ready to serve the students.

“This school system means so much to me,” Perry said. “It has pushed me to where I am. I am proud to represent Prince George’s County. I am proud to represent them on the board of education.”

via Prince George’s county sentinel

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County Council wants more assurances from school system before approving increased budget

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UPPER MARLBORO – Although Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) officials have promised to hold themselves accountable if County Executive Rushern Baker III’s budget proposal passes, some members of the County Council remain unconvinced.

At a council worksession last Wednesday to discuss the school system’s budget, schools officials promised accountability in the form of annual report cards. The school system is slated to receive $1.93 billion in Baker’s proposed budget, which includes a $133 million increase from the county. In order to fund the increase, Baker has proposed raising the real property tax rate by 15 percent—above the charter limit. He also proposed raising the county’s personal property tax rate from $2.40 to $2.78 per $100 of assessed value. Telecommunication taxes will be raised from 8 percent to 12 percent on top of those increases.

But Councilwoman Mary Lehman said the school system has not done a good job of convincing the council and constituents that the increases are necessary. She said the school system and the Board of Education have done a lackluster job when discussing the budget with residents at town hall meetings. She also criticized school system officials’ time commitment after PGCPS CEO Kevin Maxwell left a worksession early a couple weeks before, which angered Councilwoman Karen Toles at the time.

“We need you to stay here when you come here for as long as you possibly can and if we need you to come back then you need to come back,” Lehman said. “I was the first councilmember to have a town hall meeting on this and Mr. (Segun) Eubanks came. And, frankly, I don’t think he was a good emissary for this. He came with no formal presentation.”

Constituents were really annoyed with Eubanks being unprepared, Lehman said, and were not sold on Maxwell’s plan with no presentation.

Toles agreed that the school system and Maxwell need to be held accountable because the council is not asking for money from the school system.

“We’re not asking for $2 billion dollars—you are,” Toles said. “Be here. Be accountable. We all have late nights. Some of us even get sick. This is an important topic and an important discussion. We have to balance the budget for the tax payers and make sure we’re using their money right.”

During the worksession, Toles said she wants to make sure that each and every school in the county gets the same benefits and that the increased funding would not just reach schools in certain areas of the county. Toles questioned officials on why they have not implemented International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) programs at the feeder schools for Suitland High School, even though Suitland has an IB program.

There is a “major problem” with Maxwell’s strategic plan. Toles said, because it does not improve the schools in her district.

“What I’m concerned about is improving my community,” Toles said. “You have Suitland High School that has been an IB school for a long time but you do not extend IB programs to elementary and middle schools there.”

While she is supportive of language-immersion programs, Toles said students need opportunities to develop in educational programs that can help them succeed.

“I feel like we are dumbing down my community by not giving them a chance with those programs,” Toles said.

Maxwell said before he arrived in the school system, there were no IB programs. It is the school system’s intention to develop a support structure for every high school program they have, he said, through middle and elementary school education.

“It takes funding and training to do those things,” Maxwell said. “The expansion of IB programs, over time, will take place.”

Toles said it is not fair to some programs and services in certain parts of the county and not others. She requested information from the school system about when it would place an IB program in her elementary and middle schools. Monica Goldson, the chief operating officer of PGCPS, said the county has slated to put IB programs at Suitland Elementary school and William Hall Academy and could provide Toles with a list of other schools slated to get IB programs. However, as of Tuesday Toles said she had not received any information from the school system.

Along with report cards, County Council members said they want to ensure the school system spends money where it says it will. While the County Council approves the school system’s budget allocation, it cannot determine how the school system spends its money.

The school system will send out an annual report card to parents to notify them about how the schools are improving, Maxwell said. The school system has promised to improve its standardized test scores, graduation rate and dropout rate. The school system’s goal is to get into the state’s top 10 by 2020.

“We actually have thought about sending that out with the kids when they get their report cards. We are trying to get a handle on how long it will take to get data back from the state for this,” Maxwell said. “Different accountability pieces come at different times.”

The school system must wait for the state to certify some of their performance numbers before they are put out to the public, Maxwell said, and that can be a potential issue.

Councilman Obie Patterson asked for the school system to clearly identify what numbers it will use to audit its performance. Everyone has different performance standards, Patterson said, but the performance standards for the school system are not clear. Patterson’s constituents are saying the school system has gotten money before, he said, but they have not seen any results.

The accountability for the school system will come through council and the county government, said Monique Davis, deputy superintendent. Because the council approves additional funding, Davis said, councilmembers will be the ones who will hold the school system accountable.

“It comes through our partnerships. Through our partnership with the county council, you guys are going to hold us accountable. I think that’s what you can tell your constituents,” Davis said.

Councilwoman Andrea Harrison said the school system has put council members in a tough position by balancing education needs with increasing taxes on residents without any insurances for positive results.

“You have asked us to put a significant tax increase on the residents in this county. In my opinion, and I think in the opinion of the people of this county, we have not proven that we are making progress,” Harrison said.

The school system will not stop asking for increases, Harrison said, but if there are no results, she said, it will be difficult to continue to give increases if there are no results to show any progress.

“Your children can’t come to you and ask for increases in their allowance if they are not doing something that you can see is worth them getting an increase in their allowance,” Harrison said.

via Prince George’s county Sentinelpgcps_logoPRINCE-large

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.”

>>> read more 

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Prince George’s seeks input on $2 billion school priority plan.

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Political agglomeration taking shape for over $2 billion worth of deferred maintenance without proper accountability for questionable long term good.  Bad governance leads to unwise expenditures and is another type of trap. A good governing body transforms its money into public services.

A new process for evaluating and rating school system facilities is under development to help Prince George’s Public Schools prioritize over $2 billion worth of deferred maintenance.

“It does seem overwhelming, but if you can break it down into manageable pieces, it can be done, if there is a will, and if the public has a will,” said Sarah Woodhead, PGCPS director of capital programs, during the first of three public hearings, held Tuesday at Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale.

A final public meeting is scheduled March 19 at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville.

Jay Brinson, project executive for Washington, D.C.,-based project management firm Brailsford and Dunlavey, said a final master plan prioritization report is expected to be completed by the end of May, with drafts released to the school system in late April.

Woodhead said the school system typically has a capital improvements budget of $130 million per year.

“If you look at the number, $130 million sounds like a lot, but if you’re trying to take care of $2 billion in deferred maintenance, overcrowding issues, plus modernizing to meet current standards, we do have a shortfall,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead said the $2 billion backlog is due to maintenance needs over the past 40 years that were put off, and have now added up.

“That’s roofs, boilers, windows, mechanical systems, things that should have been replaced every 20 years, or 30 years or 15 years, that didn’t happen, all adds up to over $2 billion,” Whitehead said.

Woodhead said more than 50 percent of the school system’s inventory of schools is over 40 years old.

>>> Read more pgcps_logo boundary-web3_original_cropimagescalhguwb

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PGCPS School System Facing Sting of Budget Cuts.

dsc_0669Dr. Maxwell hired several close friends and others connected to Rushern Baker III regime awarding six figure salaries to each one of them at the expense of PGCPS Children. Any cuts within the school system needs to start at Sasscer administrative Building where his close friends are based. There is no need to cut teachers who work hard in the classroom. 

 UPPER MARLBORO – County officials are reeling after taking a deeper look into Governor Larry Hogan’s proposed state budget.

County Council Chairman Mel Franklin said the “mixed bag the county received is a worse mix than we thought,” while Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell, said cuts could equate to more than 500 teachers’ jobs.

Two weeks ago Hogan announced his proposed budget, cutting the state aid the county receives from the geographic cost of education index (GCEI) in half, resulting in a reduction of $19.7 million, according to PGCPS Chief Financial Officer Raymond Brown, the school system’s chief financial officer. Brown also said the school system will lose out on $12.7 million as a result of Hogan freezing the per-pupil funding for the state’s Foundation program at the level for fiscal 2015. The school system will also receive $4.1 million less than the estimated after Hogan chose to delay the phase-in of the net taxable income (NTI) funding, keeping the funding at 40 percent instead of increasing it to 60 percent. In total, Brown said the school system will miss out on an extra $38 million.

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PRINCE-largerushern-baker-head-111010wMr. Rushern Baker III – Architect of school system take over  which was capriciously done.

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Mohammed Ali: No one criticizes; no one asks hard questions to the government- It feels as if all media houses are state owned.

Reality Tale of Two Education Systems:

One for the Poor, and One for the Rest

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New data reveals our public—not private—school system is among the best in the world. In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world.

The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, in readingmath, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, in public schools only, and their results were higher than the U.S. average.

Perhaps most significant in the NCES reading results is that schools with less than 25% free-lunch eligibilityscored higher than the average in ALL OTHER COUNTRIES.

The Obvious: Reduce Poverty and Improve Education.

What should be obvious to our legislators is apparently not. K-12 funding declined in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records. A 2014 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that “States’ new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less.”

It gets worse. Numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. But the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education. And yet Head Start was recently hit with the worst cutbacks in its history.

>>> Read more 

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Prince George’s principals determine how to use funding.

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PRINCIPALS & SCHOOL BASED BUDGET IN PGCPS SCHOOL DISTRICT:

Frederick Douglass High School Principal Rudolph Saunders’s hands were tied when money for a popular college preparation course was slashed from the Prince George’s County school budget a few years ago. The course had to go, which Saunders and parents believed was a detriment to students.

Under a policy that is gaining popularity nationally and allows principals to decide how to spend the money allocated to their schools, Saunders has been able to bring the program back, using his authority to choose how best to meet his students’ needs. >> Read more Washington post

ANALYSIS

Based on the above, we find this model crazy in PG County system – the system is supposed to be “for the kids” if a guidance counselor is cut, as demonstrated in the coverage, it does not anchor well with the students. The article goes on to articulate that, the budget allocation allowed the school to hire a second  “Instructional Lead Teacher” – which is a non-classroom based staff member, who does not service or help the children in any way. It seems that perhaps instead of school based budget, this should be call “Principal based budgeting,” as the principal and her good friend are the only ones who benefit from these decision. We have received reports from some quarters that it’s “Christmas in June” for some PGCPS Principals.

There is a fundamental problem with allowing principals to use funds without serious oversight in PGCPS School District.  The required oversight is not easy to establish because the inner workings of most schools are out of sight except to the faculty in a particular school.  There is an institutional “rule” that prohibits “regular” teachers or support staff from commenting on the inner workings of their school or even expose Principal’s extra marital affair etc. This why the ship has been going down for a while and another reason why Mr. James Small-Wood and Mr. Dwayne Jones have managed to destroy Association of Supervisory and Administrative School Personnel (ASASP) with impunity plus other unions like ACE-AFSCME Local 2250.   While it sounds good,  it is well-known that a great number of principals “favor” specific faculty members and will use these funds to support those faculty members rather than use the funds to increase the educational achievement for all students.  For Example, if the Principal wants to create a specific position for their significant other, he or she can do that following this model. If he decides to terminate a position of a specific staff member because they complained. He or she can do that too. The policy suggests that all principals are competent, an assumption which is way off the mark. In our own considered opinion, this model is not ready for PGCPS because of lack of transparency and accountability initiatives. The retaliation and discriminatory tendencies have been the order of the day since the inception of the same system. We must stop the impunity and create the right balance in a transparency manner. It’s time to make changes!

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Federal judges rules in favor of 4 Cases.

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Two different federal judges have ruled that a total of four separate discrimination lawsuits against the Prince George’s County Public School System can advance to trial in federal court. The first of these four trials is scheduled for November 2013. Collectively, these four discrimination lawsuits allege violations of the following laws:

•Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – failing to accommodate an employee with a known disability.

•Title VI and Title VII – racial hostile work environment/retaliation.

•Title VII and Title IX – sexual hostile work environment/retaliation.

The four plaintiffs include two white men and two African American women. One lawsuit is demanding $1,000,000 and three lawsuits are demanding $5,000,000. The attorney Bryan A. Chapman who has been handling some of these cases and who was reprimanded by Hon. Judge Peter J. Messitte on several occasions for filing defective complaints, refusal to file rebuttal and other issues has been fired by several clients recently. The said clients decided they will never go to the jury trial with Mr. Chapman for letting their friends down and making false and misleading statements to defeat justice. As indicated, the termination arose from unethical behavior of an attorney who is entrusted to uphold the rule of law and who instead led several cases being dismissed deliberately. According to confirmed reports by several plaintiffs in Federal court, Thatcher law firm and PGCPS legal department played a major role in this corruption and an investigation is warranted to uncover the truth of what happened. “We are not going to rest until the whole truth comes out.” said several former clients who no longer have faith in the Court system. “Everything is so broken down starting with the Prince George’s County District and Circuit Courts and it is not funny anymore.” added another.

Mr. Chapman “far exceeded zealous advocacy and included repeated abuse of the tools of the legal system.” Among some of the rules Mr. Chapman violated were; asserting a position for which there is no non-frivolous basis in law or fact; using means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person; engaging in conduct that was not legitimate advocacy, in a professional capacity, manifesting bias or prejudice based upon race, religion, and disability (mental condition). Mr. Chapman who has a history of unethical litigation practices and disciplinary proceeding in other cases in Washington Dc, the virulent bigotry he has manifested in Federal proceedings in Greenbelt should never be ignored including his lack of any insight into his misconduct.

The school system has a two billion dollar annual budget. The school system also receives hundreds of millions of dollars in federal assistance, so there is no cap on the amount of damages a jury can award in each of the four lawsuits.

One of the four lawsuits alleges that Angelique Simpson-Marcus, the African American principal of Largo High School, called Jon Everhart, a white male English teacher, “white bitch” and “poor white trash”. In the fall of 2007, the principal told Mr. Everhart that she would fire him and take away his teaching certificate as “payback” for a time when white principals mistreated black teachers. Complaints of racial harassment were made to Superintendent William Hite and other school board officials in 2008 and 2009, nonetheless, the racial harassment/retaliation continued until Mr. Everhart was terminated in the summer of 2010. Jon Everhart v. Board of Education of Prince George’s County, 11-cv-1196 (PJM) Others on the way to the jury include Tracy Allison v. Board of Education of Prince George’s County, Ruth Johnson v. Board of Education of Prince George’s County ~> Tracy Allison – Order, jon everhart order and Ruth Johnson)

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PGCPS board member Carletta Fellows resigns.

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Carletta Fellows

Reform Sasscer Movement has learned that Ms. Carletta Fellows accused of charging more than $700 of personal expenses to her board-issued credit card has resigned.

According to Prince George’s County Public Schools, Carletta Fellows announced her resignation Thursday. She was elected to the board last year to represent District 7 constituents. During her short tenure in the Board, she worked very hard and created a strong accountability check on previous Board Chairperson Ms. Verjeana Jacobs until Ms. Jacobs lost her position through the legislature by the way of HB1107. Even though she is leaving the Board of Education, this woman of God should be supported even in retirement. If she made a mistake, it’s because she did not know. The fight against corruption must continue ~ A luta continua!

Fellows was the only board member who supported County Executive Rushern Baker’s plan to take over the school system. (Read more Washington post)

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