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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Education News (Thursday)

(Posted 19 Jan 2006)
  • Pr. George's Schools Audit Cites Pay, Contract Errors
    • Post, 19 Jan 2006 (by Nick Anderson, Washington Post Staff Writer).
    . . . Prince George's County school officials concede that they may be unable to collect up to $1 million in wages overpaid to terminated employees and others on the payroll of Maryland's second-largest school system, according to a state audit made public yesterday.

    The audit pointed to "significant problems" in financial management of the county schools in such areas as procurement, federal grants, payroll, human resources and information technology. And it noted that key vacancies in the positions of chief executive and chief financial officer -- now filled by interim and acting appointees -- could slow efforts to set the school system's financial shop in order.
    [. . .]
    The audit also found some bright spots in a financial operation that has been much maligned in recent years, noting for example that controls were adequate for "the vast majority" of revenue.
    [. . .]
    The latest audit reinforced the overall impression that the financial management of the Prince George's school system has far to go to catch up to its suburban peers. For the past two fiscal years, the school system has been tardy in submitting an independent audit of its year-end financial statements -- a key indicator of its overall financial stability.
    [. . .]
    The audit added: "These conditions were so prevalent that the propriety of many of the purchases we tested was questionable." Auditors said 34 of 40 invoices tested failed to show compliance with appropriate procurement policies and procedures.

    Additionally, they said that the school system could not provide proper documentation for 12 contracts valued at $13 million. Those contracts were among 15 tested, with an overall value of $27.2 million.

    In response, school officials wrote that they would review their guidelines. But they said that the county schools already had a procurement policy in place with detailed procedures. "It was and is available for inspection," officials wrote.
  • School Board set to vote on new boundaries tonight
  • Tonight’s school board meeting will likely lead to finalizing boundary changes that will move hundreds of students from aging high schools in Prince George’s County to the new Henry A. Wise, Jr. regional high school in Upper Marlboro.
    [. . .]
    The Prince George’s County Parent Advisory Board (P-CAB) wrote the board a week ago seeking a postponement of the vote, but to no avail. P-CAB complained that the boundary changes didn’t uphold the goal of sending students to neighborhood schools and too much attention was being given to selective interests instead of the community as a whole.

    Much of the infighting took place when a new high school in South Bowie was approved by both the County Council and the school board, amid protests from the northern section of the county, which is experiencing the most overcrowding in high schools. The plan for a new school in Bowie is based on projections of more high school students there, and ignores the overcrowding problems that already exist elsewhere in the county, opponents said.
    [. . .]
  • Report leaves schools seeking answers
    • Gazette, 19 Jan 2006(by Douglas Tallman, Staff Writer).
    Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. unveiled a $29.6 billion budget Tuesday that showers election-year generosity into voter-friendly programs such as education and the environment.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘He wants to spend his way back into popularity with the people of Maryland,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. ‘‘It’s an election-year budget to appease angry voters and buy votes.”

    Miller (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach already had his knives sharpened Tuesday, acerbically calling the governor ‘‘Budget-Busting Bob” for exceeding the spending affordability guideline.

    Miller said the legislature would bear the budget-cutting burden, figuring the governor would try to gain political mileage off cuts to his budget.

    Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Dist. 25) of Forestville called the budget plan ‘‘a Christmas tree” because of all the programs that benefited from spending increases.

    ‘‘It’s interesting coming from a governor who for the last three years has been highly critical of the previous administration for having spent money like a drunken sailor,” said Currie, who chairs the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee.

    Prince George’s County will receive $990 million in state aid, a 11.2 percent increase. The dollar amount is exceeded only by Baltimore city, with $1.15 billion.

    Sen. David R. Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market said the legislature would make cuts.

    ‘‘The challenge for Democrats is Martin O’Malley and Doug Duncan are saying it’s not enough and the legislature is saying it’s too much,” Brinkley said. O’Malley is the Baltimore mayor and Duncan is the Montgomery County executive, both vying for the Democratic nomination for governor.
    [. . .]
  • Dueling for Dollars For Maryland Schools; Officials Line Up at Annual 'Begathon'
    • Post, 19 Jan 2006 (by Ann E. Marimow, Washington Post Staff Writer).
Education bills sponsored by Prince George's legislators, 11 Jan - 18 Jan 2006
  • HB 40 - 11 Jan 2006
    • Education - Public Schools - Parent or Guardian Contact Information
    • Delegate Benson
  • HB 70 - 11 Jan 2006
    • Public Schools - Size of Classes - Limitations
    • Delegates Cardin, Morhaim, and Parker
  • HB 129 - 16 Jan 2006
    • Education - Adult External High School Program
    • Delegates Cadden, Proctor, and others
  • HB 133 - 16 Jan 2006
    • Education - Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program - Grants - Funding
    • Delegates Hixson, Bozman, Healey, Howard, Marriott, and Patterson
  • HB 141 - 18 Jan 2006
    • Education - State Board of Education - Members - Qualifications
    • Delegates Krebs, Parker, and others
  • SB 47 - 11 Jan 2006
    • Task Force to Convene a Summit on Civic Literacy in Maryland
    • Senator Britt
  • SB 59 - 11 Jan 2006
    • Public Schools - Graduation Rate Formula - Collecting, Maintaining, Analyzing, and Reporting
    • Senator Britt

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