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CEO's Mid-Year News Update 2022-23

CEO’s Mid-Year News Update

FROM THE DESK OF MONICA E. GOLDSON
Chief Executive Officer’s Mid-Year News Update
December 2022

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Dear Prince George’s County Public Schools Community,

As the first half of the 2022-2023 school year comes to a close, we reflect on the progress and wins our school district has made this year.

After two years of remote and hybrid instruction, we are back, engaged more than ever with in-person teaching and learning. This school year, we are focusing on Mathematics, Mental Health and Safety as we work towards the goals of our Transformation 2026 strategic plan. 

With the return to in-person instruction, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our school communities as a shared responsibility among students, staff and families. Violence, bullying and drug abuse have no place in our schools. There is no tolerance for guns, knives or any weapon on school property. Students found in possession of a weapon will face swift disciplinary action up to expulsion. Schools must be safe places to teach, learn and work. 

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, our school system has prioritized social-emotional learning, mental health, conflict resolution skills, positive behavior and personal accountability. We have kicked off new telehealth and therapy session initiatives to make it clear that social-emotional and academic well-being go hand in hand. 

Inside the classroom, our educators have been working to promote academic excellence across subject areas. Back for its second year, PGCPS READS is expected to help at least 4,000 students with reading comprehension and vocabulary development. Our students have also experienced learning outside of the classroom. For instance, several fifth-graders from the Phyllis E. Williams Spanish Immersion program took their first trip to Spain where they witnessed history in person while strengthening their language skills.

Just as exciting, the start of 2023 brings us closer to revitalizing PGCPS for generations to come. As construction finalizes this summer on five new middle schools and one K-8 school, we will better serve students and increase our Pre-K offerings with up to 8,000 seats systemwide.

At the beginning of this school year, I encouraged the PGCPS community to believe in the “power of one.” And as I proudly look back at this past quarter, our entire team has eagerly tapped into this by collaboratively working towards creating more student-centered opportunities for success. From educators and staff to our families, we each play a vital role in the success of our students and district.

May this winter break give our students, teachers, faculty, and staff a chance to rest up and gear up for the second half of our school year.

Thank you to our entire PGCPS community for your support as we make transformative changes for our students.

Sincerely,

Dr. Monica Goldson, Ed.D.

Chief Executive Officer

#OnePGCPS: 2022-23 School Year Starts Strong!

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For the 2022-23 school year, CEO Dr. Monica Goldson charged the PGCPS community to tap into the “power of one” — each individual working collectively to build a thriving system of teaching, learning, equity and excellence. 

Strategic goals this school year include accelerating achievement in mathematics across all grade levels and improving school climate by addressing challenges with behavior, attendance, safety and inclusivity. Additionally, work is underway to expand mental health and wellness support and social-emotional learning. 

PGCPS Snapshot and Key Figures

Student Enrollment: 131,146

Employees: 22,000

Dual Enrollment Students: Over 2,300 students concurrently enrolled in PGCPS and a higher education site

Associate Degrees: 179 students graduated with a High School Diploma and an Associates Degree

AP Exam Performance: Over 1,100 students earning moderate to high passing grades on at least one AP exam

Online Learning: PGCPS is now a one to one District. Teachers and faculty have access to manage online course learning materials and communicate about skill development and learning achievement through an online portal. 

Pre-K: Programs now offered for full day 

Language Immersion: Opened a Middle School Immersion program with Immersion High School program beginning in school year 2023-2024

Talented and Gifted (TAG): Student representation increased among students receiving free and reduced meals to almost 50 percent. 

Career and Technical education (CTE) Partnerships and Certifications: 

  • 208 business partners 
  • 188 various certifications
  • IT pathways has certified100% of students for the last two years (Computer Information Systems, Networking (CISCO Academy - Cybersecurity), Data Management and Networking)

SUPPORTING FAMILIES

Connecting Students to Healthcare

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In partnership with Prince George’s County Health Department and school-based telehealth provider Hazel Health, we are proud to offer all students access to virtual medical care visits and therapy sessions. Doctors and therapists are available to see students at home or at school. Services are available at no cost to every student, regardless of health insurance or financial situation - making it easier than ever for families to keep their children healthy and safe. 

Accelerating Learning: After School Tutoring

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Back for its second year, PGCPS has partnered with BookNook for PGCPS READS to help meet academic needs and support learning. The initiative is expected to help at least 4,000 K-5 students by providing free small-group virtual tutoring sessions two to three times a week.

“We know what a difference this will make for students and families. Our summer remote tutoring programs saw students make six months of reading skill gains in six weeks, and 95% of families rated their experience a 10 out of 10,” says Michael Lombardo, founder and CEO of BookNook.

Accessibility is key, which is why resources are provided for over 800 different texts in English and Spanish. Tutoring sessions will focus on providing instruction in basic skills, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension. Parents and students will also be able to track their progress after every lesson.

Hall of Fame Gala Raises Over $225K for Scholarships

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The 4th Annual Excellence in Education Foundation for PGCPS Hall of Fame Gala honored outstanding alumni and celebrated their impactful contributions to the community. Through the generosity of donors, sponsors and attendees, we raised over $225,000 to support initiatives that close the digital divide and expand scholarship opportunities — resources that enhance access to quality education while also helping students to realize their dreams.

PGCPS Hall of Fame Class of 2022

Distinguished Educator

State Senator JoAnne C. Benson

Distinguished Professional

Brian Thompson

Suitland High School Class of 1988

Distinguished Professional

Dr. Gabina Dixon

Oxon HIll High School Class of 1997

Distinguished Athlete

Rebekkah Brunson

Oxon Hill High School Class of 2000

Distinguished Young Leader

Jimmy Jenkins

Charles Herbert Flowers High School Class of 2009Learn more about this year’s honorees at www.eefpgcps.org 

CEO's Student Advisory Council

CEO Dr. Monica Goldson launched a Student Advisory Council to hear from student-leaders on policies and issues, and to gain perspective on ways PGCPS can better meet diverse needs. The council consists of representatives across high schools, selected by their principals. The advisory has already provided input and feedback on the need for social emotional and mental health resources, school nutrition, school climate and safety.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

New Cherokee Lane Elementary School

The back-to-school season was highlighted by an official ribbon-cutting for the new Cherokee Lane Elementary, opening a new school and marking a major milestone in PGCPS’s commitment to sustainability. Cherokee Lane, the first of 10 new schools that will open over the next four years, is also the first Maryland public school to be constructed using a hybrid off-site/on-site construction model.

Sustainable school buildings that reduce carbon footprint and harness clean energy are integral to the system’s new Climate Change Action Plan; Cherokee Lane attained LEED Silver certification. Other schools under construction include Adelphi, Walker Mill, Drew-Freeman, Hyattsville, Kenmoor, Glenridge, and William Wirt middle schools; the new Colin L. Powell K-8 Academy and Suitland High School. Construction updates on the new middle schools are available here.

New Schools On the Way! Blueprint Phase II Approved

The Board of Education approved Phase II of Blueprint Schools to build six new schools: Margaret Brent, Hyattsville and Springhill Lake Elementary; James E. Duckworth Regional School; and K-8 academies for Brandywine and Robert Frost.

"Through innovation in capital improvements, we are accelerating delivery of the state-of-the-art learning environments our students, staff, and families deserve," said CEO Dr. Monica Goldson. "As we prepare to open the doors of the six Phase I schools next year, Phase II allows us to continue the momentum of this historic chapter of school construction to reach even more communities."

School Boundary Initiative Finalized

The Board of Education finalized the Comprehensive School Boundary Initiative, balancing enrollment and creating new boundaries for six middle schools opening in fall 2023; reducing the number of temporary classrooms; increasing pre-k offerings and aligning the sixth grade with middle schools. Input from families and staff was integral in finalizing the plan. 

The changes are expected to impact approximately 8,300 families. Rising fifth and eighth- grade students who will be impacted by boundary changes may remain at their current school for the final year. 

For more information on how this may affect you, visit www.pgcps.org/boundary. 

Proposed FY2024 Budget Highlights Transformation, Equity and Innovation 

CEO Dr. Monica Goldson proposed a $2.8 billion budget for fiscal year (FY) 2024 focusing investments on educational and operational improvement through transformation, equity and innovation. The FY 2024 Proposed Annual Operating Budget focuses on three key priorities aligned with the Transformation 2026 Strategic Plan: raising mathematics achievement, improving school climate and expanding social-emotional learning and mental health resources. 

“This proposed budget not only addresses the immediate impacts of the pandemic, it supports our mission to provide a transformative, equitable educational experience,” said Dr. Goldson. “We must demonstrate excellence and ensure students develop the 21st century competencies needed for success.” 

Critical investments include employee compensation enhancements; increased funding for projected enrollment gains, new schools and shifting sixth grade to middle schools; expansion and accreditation of early childhood programs; and safety and security updates. The proposed budget also seeks to close a $33.1 million gap by reducing central office costs ($1.8 million); adjusting projected savings from vacant positions ($16.3 million) and paying early on an annual $15 million payment for retiree health benefits so that it occurs in the current year instead of FY 2024 ($15.0 million).

ENGAGING OUR COMMUNITY

Equipping Families for Back-to-School

Staff and volunteers distributed more than 10,000 backpacks and school supplies to families at our annual Back-to-School Drive & Dash event! Located at three sites across the county, the annual event helped kick off the school as full-time in-person instruction started for the first time since 2020.

Sponsors included Volunteer Fairfax, Synchrony, University of Maryland Capital Region Health, United HealthCare, WHUR 96.3, and Staples. Additionally, Ivy Community Charities and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Wellness Wednesdays

The Department of Student Services hosts quarterly Wellness Wednesdays virtual sessions during the 2022-2023 school year to provide informative and interactive content on mental health, well-being, and family resources. Past sessions have focused on the topic of mental health and bullying. Spanish interpretation is available for these sessions.

For more information, visit www.pgcps.org/studentservices.

Attendance Matters

CEO Dr. Monica Goldson and State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy teamed up to shine a spotlight on absenteeism. “Our goal is for every student to attend school every day and on time,” said Dr. Goldson. “We want students to be engaged in learning and to stay on track for college and career success. It takes a community approach to meet the needs of our students and families.”

Celebrating Diversity: Hispanic Heritage Month Showcase

PGCPS celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a Cultural Heritage and Identity Showcase. In keeping with CEO Dr. Monica Goldson’s challenge to embrace “The Power of One,” the theme of this year’s showcase was “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”

For the showcase, staff, students, and families were asked to share a meaningful artifact that represents their Hispanic/Latino identity. The perspectives shared included poems, songs, recipes, photographs, art, and stories — all highlighting the diversity of the community. Events like these allow us to celebrate our unique backgrounds while bringing us closer through understanding each other’s differences more deeply. 

The online exhibit is available for viewing here.

#PGCPSLeads 

Setting the Bar for Climate Action in K-12 Education

In October, CEO Dr. Monica Goldson participated in a Harvard Graduate School of Education panel of K-12 district leaders who are at the intersections of education and climate change across the country. 

Additionally, former U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King Jr. highlighted the PGCPS Climate Change Action Plan at the recent Mid-Atlantic Climate Change Education Forum.  Dr. King was presenting on how K-12 systems can lead in both climate change education and setting the stage for a carbon-free future.

Educators Shine on Global Stage

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PGCPS teachers are among the best in the world! Crossland High School teacher and Science Department Chair Dr. Chidi Duru earned the prestigious Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program award.

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Charles H. Flowers High School special education teacher LeAnn Holden-Martin won first place in the national Voya Unsung Heroes program for her innovative Sonny House Job Skills Program. The program helps high school students with severe cognitive disabilities develop real-world job skills.

Global Teacher Prize winner Keishia Thorpe of International High School Langley Park is closing out her tenure in the role by traveling the world and defining the meaning of #PGCPSProud. Thorpe has recently appeared at the United Nations Transforming Education Summit; presented on immigration and education in Bogota, Colombia; been featured by UN Today; and graced the cover of the first magazine for teachers in Africa.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Governor Visit PGCPS

Governor Larry Hogan visited Eleanor Roosevelt High School to meet with students and staff who have benefited from computer science education funding.

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U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona toured classrooms at Fort Foote Elementary School and heard from parents about ways the school is supporting students in pandemic learning recovery. The event was Cardona’s third visit to PGCPS.

“Climate and culture trumps strategy all day. There is a culture of family here. That’s the foundation on which you build strategy.” ~U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona

Phyllis E. Williams Spanish Immersion Program Embarks on Its First International Trip

After two years of planning, parents of several fifth-grade students at Phyllis E. Williams Spanish Immersion made the program’s first international trip a reality. The 11-day trip was designed to nurture multilingualism and encourage leadership in students while giving them the opportunity to experience the centuries-old history of Spain and develop new language skills. Students were able to apply their language skills in practical situations with native speakers while engaging with local cultures and customs. The trip also allowed for personal growth as students worked on developing independence, flexibility, problem-solving, critical thinking, and team communications skills.

TEAM PGCPS HIGHLIGHTS

Increased Pay for Educators

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This school year marks the highest three-year salary and compensation increases recorded in nearly 30 years of negotiated agreements.

Under the contract, teachers receive a 6 percent cost-of-living increase during the first fiscal year, followed by a 4 percent increase the following year, and an additional 3 percent increase during the third fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2024.

Highlights include:

  • Qualifying national board-certified teachers will receive an extra $13,000 yearly in pay and educators with other qualifying national certifications will receive an extra $4,000.
  • Tuition Reimbursement Increase - The funds available for educators to receive tuition reimbursements will double, seeing a $139 increase for up to $550 per credit.
  • Pay for substitute teachers will increase from $18 to $30 an hour, increasing to $32 in the second year of the contract and $34 in the third.

Dr. Goldson Finalist for School Leadership Award 

CEO Dr. Monica Goldson is a finalist for the 2023 The School Superintendents Association (AASA) School Leadership Award, which honors the talent, creativity and vision of outstanding women educational administrators in the nation’s public schools. Candidates are judged on leadership in meeting the learning needs of students, personal and organizational communication strength, constant professional improvement of knowledge and skills, and active community involvement. The winner will be announced in February.