Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has decided to back away from his original plan to increase the county property tax rate by 15 percent to generate additional revenue for education. Instead, he has proposed an alternative plan to the County Council. As reported by the Washington Post,
Instead of raising the tax rate by 15 percent, which would have produced $133 million, Baker (D) announced that he would seek $65 million in additional school funding in the budget the council is scheduled to vote on Thursday.
“We think this is a reasonable compromise,” Baker said. “Anything less is unacceptable to this administration.”
While not achieving everything in the original plan proposed by the County Executive, the scaled back plan will move the system forward.
“It won’t get us to the top 10, but it will move us up,” said Baker, who tried to sell his original proposal by promising that county schools would be among the best in the state by 2020.
Cutting the additional funding by more than half would mean no digital literacy program, no new targeted professional development, no universal breakfast program and no literacy coaches in middle school, Baker said. Also, the county would not be able to expand its gifted-and-talented program.
But teachers would get raises and retention pay, successful programs such as dual enrollment and arts integration would be expanded and family engagement resources will increase — albeit not at the originally proposed level.
The revised plan does not specify how the $65 million would be generated. That would left up to the county council to decide when they meet to approve the fiscal 2016 budget this week.