Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders Show Up for Budget Session

Greetings Engaged Parents, Dedicated Educators, and the Informed Community,

As many of you know, yesterday (October 25, 2011) the Superintendent of PGCPS hosted a second public hearing/session on the 2012-2013 school budget. I am happy to report this session saw a dramatic increase in the number of concern citizens, parents, teachers, and community stakeholders in attendance.

I want to commend each of you who took the time out of your schedule to attend the meeting in person or to observe on TV, or via webcast. The superintendent acknowledged this was the largest turnout in his six year tenure for a budget hearing/session.

Throughout the evening speaker after speaker (over 20) passionately talked about educational programs, services, and infrastructural concerns they wanted to see as a priority in this year’s budget process. At one point, citizens in attendance who did not get a chance to speak because they were unable to register due to a technical glitch were extended an opportunity to voice their concerns and priorities for the 2012-2013 budget.

Tonight’s overall theme centered on two major areas, academic enrichment programs such as Music Education and the Arts and Teacher satisfaction. Those speaking in support of music education and arts included parents, teachers and community stakeholders. Anxiety over potential loss of funding for these programs served as a sense of urgency for many. Speakers summarized that the loss of music education and the arts would have an impact across all grade levels.

A number of teachers informed members of the school leadership that the funding for these programs are often earmarked for reductions, but suggested there is inadequate funding currently and as a result it has limited options for students aspiring to engage in music, arts and foreign language. In some instances, students are forced to choose between music and a foreign language, because they cannot have both. Worries mentioned most often by supporters of music education and the arts included but were not limited to: (1) Limitations of options for students in the arts programs; (2) Overcrowding in classrooms; (3) Request to expand the music education program; (4) Replacement of worn or damaged musical instruments; and (5) Return of the Kennedy Center Concert Program.

The presentations by several members of the Prince George’s County Educator’s Association (PGCEA) outlined several concerns for their membership. Most alarming to those present, was the information that teacher morale is at an all-time low according the PGCEA representatives. PGCEA representatives stated the following sentiments from their members: (1) Impossible working conditions; (2) Concerns about job security; (3) Compensation; (4) Increase work demands; and (5) Reductions and lost of stipends.

In closing, the Dr. Hite applauded the turnout, thanked those in attendance and reminded the audience that he has not proposed any formal budget suggestions to the Board of Education at this time. He stated the turnout suggests that parents and members of the community are engaged and that the system would be incorporating additional forms of technology to connect parents to the budgeting process (It appears they are getting the message!)

As a side note there is a Board of Education meeting on October 27, 2011 starting at 7pm. If you can attend, please do so, however, if you are unable to be present, please follow the proceedings on channels 96 Comcast and 38 on Verizon. You can also view the meeting via webcast. Also, please join me as I will be Tweeting my thoughts, views and comments during the meeting.


Michael Robinson, Ed.D.

“Student achievement and increase school performance are linked by the support of engaged parents, dedicated educators, and the informed community.”

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