Prince George's County School officials and board members discuss the proposed $2.1 billion fiscal 2019 budget during a Jan. 23 workshop at Laurel High School. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Prince George's County School officials and board members discuss the proposed $2.1 billion fiscal 2019 budget during a Jan. 23 workshop at Laurel High School. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Prince George’s County Public Schools’ proposed $2.1 billion fiscal 2019 budget represents a nearly 7 percent increase with a boost in academic programs, cultural training and family and community engagement.

Schools officials and board members discussed one particular item during a budget workshop Tuesday. About $500,000 allocated would seek a company to conduct a graduation audit of this year’s senior class.

Board President Segun Eubanks said it will help assess academic performance and the work of administrators and teachers.

The allocated amount could be lower, depending on contract negotiations, Eubanks said.

“We learned from the [state] audit that we had some issues we need to fix,” he said after the workshop and public hearing at Laurel High School. “What we want to do is be honest and transparent in what we do.”

Board member Sonya Williams recommended to place the dollar figure in a fund balance as a one-time expenditure, especially if the audit comes out clean.

Unfortunately, a state audit released in November determined about 5 percent of 1,212 high school seniors sampled from the past two years didn’t have proper documentation to determine eligibility to graduate.

School system CEO Kevin Maxwell has said the audit didn’t find a systemwide plan to purposely change grades. In addition, the school system plans to make changes that include separate roles among staff such as counselors, grade manager and administrators before any grades are changed.

On Monday, parents at DuVal High School in Lanham received letters to inform them “changes [made] to the leadership team and staff … due to non-compliance with district grading and graduation procedures.”

Maxwell and other high-ranking officials toured eight schools last year to celebrate high graduation rates, including DuVal, which touted a 92 percent rate. However, the state audit showed almost 27 percent of students in 2016 and 2017 showed either limited or no documents to determine graduation eligibility. In addition, 17 students accumulated 50 or more days absent.

“As I stated previously, intentional violations of school system policies and procedures will not be tolerated,” Maxwell said in Monday’s letter. “Changes are being made to improve student achievement and strengthen the DuVal community’s confidence in its school.”

The Maryland State Board of Education meets Monday in Baltimore and could address Prince George’s modifications to improve the system.

As for the Prince George’s budget, another budget workshop and public hearing are scheduled for Jan. 30 at Central High School in Capitol Heights. The budget can be reviewed at http://bit.ly/2DuBTlM.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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