Prince George’s County Public Schools has begun the budgeting process for fiscal year 2013 with the county still strapped for cash.

After last year’s process, which saw a reduction in special education teachers and changes in busing, this budget process could lead to an elimination of other programs.

In an attempt to save money and eliminate waste, the county has gone to Student Based Budgeting (SBB), which instead of allocating resources to schools based on staffing formulas and school-specific programs, will fund schools per child based on the needs of each child.

“Prince George’s County, like many school systems, has traditionally given dollars to schools based on factors such as the number of students and staffing ratios,” Hite said in a letter to parents. “That formula did little to address students’ and schools’ diverse needs. It’s a simple fact that every school is not the same. For too long, however, our funding system suggested otherwise.”

The program was already piloted at eight schools in the county including Bowie High School and Frederick Douglass High School. It’s also being used across the country in Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego and Baltimore.

A report done by the Annenburg Institute for School Reform says this SBB does what standard practice of budgeting fails to do and that’s provide equal resources to low-income students.

“These standard practices can result in very different per-pupil dollar amounts in different schools,” a report by the Annenburg Institute said. “While the intent is often to direct resources to higher-needs students and schools, a growing body of research shows that these practices shortchange schools that serve low-income students and students of color.”

That can be seen in some of the higher performing schools in the county versus the lower performing and among color lines.

African-American and Latino students in the county are still not meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP) in math or reading, however White and Asian students are.

To further that point, students at Fairmont Heights, Potomac, Largo and Bladensburg lagging far behind larger schools outside of the beltway like Eleanor Roosevelt, C.H. Flowers and Bowie.

It is for that reason that Hite believes parents at any school can know that their child is getting the proper funding.

“In short, this means that now you and your child’s school can have greater confidence that money is following students,” he said. “What this means for Prince George’s County Public Schools is that we are literally putting dollars behind our stated goals to empower school leaders, shift central office to better support schools, and balance accountability with increased autonomy.”

The FY 2013 budgetary process is still in its initial stages. The budget must go before the county executive and council before final approval.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO