P.G. schools require oversight, not major aid, Grasmick says

November 06, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

State school Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick discounted the need yesterday for major new spending for the Prince George's County school system, declaring instead that more stringent accountability standards are needed to lift student achievement.

Addressing a task force studying education funding in Maryland, Grasmick proposed giving state education officials greater oversight of the Prince George's system, the state's largest.

Grasmick proposed a modest financial aid package for Prince George's, where some officials have called on the state and the county to spend about $100 million more annually on the system.

"I don't think there is any appetite in this state to contribute dollars on a continuing basis with no measurable outcome," Grasmick told the task force.

Grasmick is proposing that the state increase operating assistance for the Prince George's schools by about $15 million a year. The county receives about $400 million in state school aid.

Many observers expect Gov. Parris N. Glendening to propose a larger package of aid for Prince George's -- a combination of operating funds and money to build schools -- although he has offered no details.

Last summer, the governor discussed an increase of about $50 million a year over five years, though he has appeared to back off from that figure.

Grasmick's focus yesterday on management changes recalled similar changes she pushed for the Baltimore school system several years ago.

In the Baltimore case, Grasmick and state officials documented continuing poor achievement in the system for several years.

This year, the General Assembly overhauled the Baltimore system, transferring control of the schools from a school board appointed by the mayor to a newly created board appointed by the mayor and governor. Lawmakers agreed to send an additional $254 million to Baltimore schools over five years.

"I think this is the beginning of very long-range state interest in the outcomes in Prince George's County," said Timothy F. Maloney, a former state delegate and a member of a task force studying state funding. "It will be a question of investigating outcomes, not micromanaging."

In one key proposal, Grasmick said the state should clamp down on the use of noncertified teachers, a proposal that would likely hit Prince George's County significantly. The county has by far the highest number of noncertified teachers of any school system in Maryland.

Prince George's County school Superintendent Jerome Clark listened to Grasmick's proposal, but did not address the task force and was unavailable for comment.

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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