Kevin Maxwell, Prince George’s County CEO want to increase funding for public schools in the 2016-2017 school year.

Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO is seeking a dramatic increase in funding for the 2016-2017 school year — an increase of about $182 million that would bring the budget to $2 billion.

The request calls for an additional $128 million from county taxpayers, in part to make up a $6.4 million decrease due to the end of federal “Race to the Top” grants and a $4.8 million decrease in local funding from out-of-county tuition and other sources.

“Our district has been underfunded for a long time,” Kevin Maxwell told AFRO after delivering his “State of the School System Address” at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale, Maryland. “If we really want to be able to do everything that we’re being asked to do, all of the standards we’re being asked to meet, all the goals that are being set for us, you have to invest in that work,” he said.

Maxwell made his remarks on the heels of new data that show PGCPS students scoring below the state average on the newly adopted Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. Specifically, only 15 percent of PGCPS elementary and middle school students in Grades 3-8 achieved, met, or exceeded college and career readiness standards on the new PARCC math assessment. In comparison, nearly 30 percent of Maryland elementary and middle school students met or exceeded the new math test standards.

On the new PARCC English Language Arts/Literacy Assessments, only 25 percent of PGCPS elementary and middle school students met or exceeded the standards, compared to 40 percent of elementary and middle school students in Grades 3-8 statewide.

The PARCC data also showed “substantial achievement gaps” between Black and White students in Prince George’s County – specifically 24.6 and 22.8 percent in English Language Arts and Math, respectively.

“You need to unpack the data and get the story of what the data reveals,” said PGCPS Board of Education Chairman Segun C. Eubanks, who said the data shows county schools perform “as well or better than students with similar backgrounds and demographics.”

Maxwell’s budget calls for a $43 million raise for public school employees in order to make teacher salaries in the county more competitive so that teachers want to stay in the school system. The average teacher salary in Prince George’s County is $66,720, versus $76,029 in Montgomery County, according to the Washington Area Boards of Education.

“You can’t keep having almost ten percent of your workforce turning over a year and not try to do something about that competitiveness,” Maxwell said.

The budget also calls for:

* $2.8 million for 34 more teachers at the K-2 level

* $3.4 million for 25 math specialists

* $881,800 for six new literacy coaches

Maxwell said he had no doubt that PARCC scores will improve in the future, but that they won’t rise as rapidly without the various items in his requested budget. “We’d like to get better a lot faster,” he said. “If we want to have a stronger commercial base in our county, employees need to feel assured that there’s a place that they’d want their children to go to school.”

“Dr. Maxwell’s proposed budget presented a plan that he believes will continue the school system’s academic progress,” Scott Peterson, press secretary for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III told the AFRO in an email Dec. 16. “We look forward to hearing the community’s response to his proposed budget, which includes an increase in spending of over $182 million over FY 2016.  As the County Executive moves forward in his FY 2017 budget process, we look forward to hearing our citizens’ diverse viewpoints on all budget issues.”

The PGCPS system is the second-largest school district in Maryland, currently serving 129,000 students, a number that Maxwell said is projected to grow by 1,200 next school year.