Pri. Geo. Senators Take Another Swipe at School Board HQ
Prince George's senators are pushing their attempts to force the county's Board of Education to give up office space leased last June as a new school system headquarters.
The group agreed Friday to amend a bill that would extend health benefits to school board members with a clause that would also require the board to spend no funds to lease, acquire or purchase administrative offices.
Some school board members believe new office space is needed to replace the aging former school that now serves as the system's administrative headquarters. They say such offices are key to professionalizing the system--and believe the move will ultimately save money by allowing for the consolidation of other scattered offices.
But the 10-year, $36 million lease has proven highly controversial, coming as the economy unraveled and the board also voted to close schools and cuts jobs. Senators last week agreed to amend the state budget to eliminate $36 million in funding for Prince George's schools unless the board finds a way out of the lease. That item may not survive a conference committee with the House, which did not include a similar amendment in its budget.
Under the bill approved by the county's senators Friday, the school board would have no choice but to discontinue the lease. An internal school system memo written in October and obtained by The Washington Post predicted "severe adverse financial consequences to the school system" if the lease is broken.
The bill will now be considered by the Senate's Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee but because it is a "local bill" that applies only to Prince George's, chances are that other senators will go along with it.
April 6, 2009; 3:12 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly , Prince George's County , Rosalind Helderman
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