Tag Archives: Pgcps Mess

PGCPS Parents protest over District Heights Elementary School air quality concerns

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Parents protest over District Heights Elementary School air quality concerns (ABC7)

“Repair our schools! Save our children!”

Those were the cries for help from parents, students, and community leaders outside District Heights Elementary School Monday night.

“I am not here to point fingers at anybody because I just want to call attention to the situation because we do want what’s best for our children,” said Lisa Gordon, whose nine-year-old son had to vacate his classroom because of problems with the air inside it.

On Monday morning, Prince George’s County School District CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell toured the school. The tour followed outrage from parents who claimed their kids and teachers were getting sick because of the air.

Testing confirmed there was inadequate ventilation, so several fans have been replaced.

“He guaranteed me today that it was 100-percent safe for the kids to come back to school,” said parent Phyllis Wright.

But the parents who showed up to Monday’s protest are still concerned their kids are in a school that is still being tested.

“Well it makes me feel sad because this is the school where our children have to come,” said Gordon.

Via ABC7

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PGCPS School safety questioned – in the wake of Crossland stabbing

C7YQOjIUwAA4_KFTEMPLE HILLS, MD. (WUSA9) – In the wake of a stabbing at Crossland High School Monday, at least one parent is coming forward with video saying weapons in school are a serious issue.

Rachell Lewis provided video she said shows a young man wielding a knife inside Crossland during a fight in October.

School officials say they cannot verify that the video occurred at the school.  No one was injured in the fight, the mother said.

“A lot of youth come to these schools with weapons,” Lewis said.

Crossland Principal Dr. Theresa Moseley Fax says her high school is secure.

“We have not had any issues of violence at Crossland High school, inside the school,” Mosley Fax said.

An 18-year old student was injured at about 8:25 a.m. Monday when he was stabbed outside the school during a class activity that had moved outdoors.

A former student, 18-year-old Nathaniel Coates was tackled by a teacher and taken into custody with the help of a police officer on duty at Crossland at the time. Coates will be charged in the attack, according to Prince George’s County Police.  A knife was recovered.

The injured student was taken to a hospital for treatment with non-life threatening injuries.

The stabbing happened as a masonry class was working on repairing a damaged brick wall.

The attacker “did not like the way the student looked at him, and just stabbed him,” according to Principal Mosley Fax.

Moseley Fax said Crossland students and staff have had an ongoing anti-violence campaign during the 2016-17 school year. On Tuesday, staff and students will wear red T-shirts supporting the campaign, the principal said.

https://www.scribd.com/document/342518216/Prince-George-s-County-Student-Safety-Action-Plan#from_embed

via WUSA9

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1 Arrested After Student Stabbed at Maryland High School

C7YQOjIUwAA4_KFTEMPLE HILLS, MD.- A student was stabbed during class at Crossland High School in Temple Hills Monday morning, Prince George’s County police said.

Police said the victim was stabbed after a verbal argument turned violent with 18-year-old Nathaniel Coates. The stabbing occurred during a class that was happening outside on campus.

Officers arrested Coates and recovered the weapon. Police said Coates is a former student.

According to authorities, the victim has been taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Crossland High School was not put on lockdown since everything happened within a short time frame.

See more >>> NBC4

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PGCPS Community Activists Want To Repurpose Shuttered Schools In Prince George’s County

if you missed the story about PGCPS Vacant schools in Prince George’s County by Tracee Wilkins, see it here >>> Community Activists Want To Repurpose Shuttered Schools In Prince George’s County

Some Prince George’s County citizenry have put pressure on their elected officials including area Board of Education member Mr. Alexander.

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4 Empty PGCPS School Buses Catch Fire in Parking Lot

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Fire officials say four school buses caught fire in a parking lot, causing a quarter of a million dollars in damage.

The Prince George’s County Fire Department says the fire was reported about 9 a.m. Sunday in the Brandywine area at a school bus parking on Short Cut Road. Four buses were on fire.

The fire was extinguished and no one was injured. Investigators believe the fire originated in one of the buses and then spread.

The cause remains under investigation.

Damages are estimated at $250,000.

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County councilmembers question education budget items

county-councilUPPER MARLBORO – This year Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is asking for a hefty investment from the county, and members of the county council want to know that investment will bring dividends.

The Prince George’s County Council’s Health, Education and Human Services (HEHS) Committee met with PGCPS Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell and members of the budget department to go over line items in the school system’s $2 billion request.

While PGCPS is not asking for all $2 billion from the county, John Pfister and Raymond Brown, two leaders on the budget team, said the school system is asking for a large increase in funds over previous years.

“We asked, or we appropriated, for $698 million for this current year. The total request for (fiscal year) 18 is closer to $831 million,” Brown said.

In fiscal year 2016, PGCPS received $669 million and received $698 million for fiscal year 2017 (the current year). Now, the school system is seeking a nearly $133 million increase in funds from previous years.

Karen Toles, the chair of the HEHS committee, had several questions about the budget, including specifics about past requests. She wanted to know how past asks from the school system were received and whether the council had awarded the asked amount or something else.

“Did we give you more or less based on what you asked for last year,” she asked.

The answer was a resounding less. In fact, Brown said he believes the county gave PGCPS around $80 or $90 million less than what they asked for.

And this year there is extra pressure on the county to fill in the budget gaps left behind by an updated formula for state aid. Brown and Pfister said PGCPS expects to receive less state funding due to a drop in Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) program enrollees.

“Our FARMs enrollment decreased by 823 students, so that was one of the drivers. The other driver was the net taxable income and guaranteed tax base amounts were a lot less than we anticipated,” Brown said, explaining that the total amount of state funding for all school systems only increased by $80 million this year.

However, the county is only required to fund the school system to a certain amount, the maintenance of effort (MOE), and that requirement only increased by $9.7 million this year. Still, the county has a history of funding the school system well beyond the MOE.

With an investment like that on the table, Toles and other members wanted to know what that increased money is going to.

Maxwell said the increase will go toward a number of projects including the expansion of pre-kindergarten, language immersion and the International School, as well as benefits for teachers and employees, including incentives for bus drivers.

“The largest one is under high performing work force. We’ve been trying to respond to the retention and recruitment of high quality teachers. And so, that is over a $90 million request right there to give everyone a step (raise),” Maxwell said.

Beyond overall funding, many council members had questions about specific parts of the proposed budget, which has yet to be approved by the board of education.

Questions arose about hiring practices for nurses, teacher retention, especially in Title I and “difficult” schools, the loss of Head Start federal grant funds, and equal educational opportunities for all students in Prince George’s County.

Councilwoman Andrea Harrison took a special interest in the new software requests, asking if resources are being pooled for students who are not in specialty programs or in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

“For me, that’s very important,” she said. “While I appreciate the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, I also understand that not every child is going to go to college, but they still need to be prepared for life.”

Maxwell said the school system is looking into updated resources for vocational and non-traditional schools. He expects a recommendation for next year’s budget after an analysis into the current model.

Councilwoman Deni Taveras, as well as other members, asked about busses and the difficulty caused by delays and absenteeism, and what can be done to improve the situation.

Maxwell and Wesley Watts, chief operating officer, said PGCPS is working on an incentive program for bus drivers to improve attendance, as well as working on improving working conditions and growing a list of substitute drivers.

Todd Turner, councilman for District 4, inquired about construction at Tulip Grove Elementary, Advanced Placement Test fees and the growing demographics of students – specifically how the school system is handling refugees.

The board of education will take up the budget on Feb. 23 before it is send to County Executive Rushern Baker, III for consideration in his countywide budget proposal. From there, the county council will dig deeper into the budget before making a final recommendation.

Via Prince George’s County sentinelprincegeorges1

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PGCPS’ Dr. Kevin Maxwell Eyes boundary Changes

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UPPER MARLBORO — One year after the Prince George’s County Board of Education voted to postpone school boundary changes, new proposed changes are before the governmental body.

Boundaries are historically a tough topic in the school system and the proposals, made by the Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell on Jan. 19, were no exception, as parents, community members and board of education members raised questions about the proposals.

However, unlike previous years, the school system’s capital improvements office made a large effort to give communities the opportunity to take part in the boundary decisions, said Johndel Jones-Brown, the director of Pupil Accounting and School Boundaries in Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).

“One of the things that we allowed for in those community discussions was the opportunity to follow up,” Jones-Brown said. “Again, understanding the complexity of some of these issues and realizing that there were no easy, readily available solutions.”

Pupil Accounting and School Boundaries partnered with the capital improvements office for the onsite meetings with the affected communities. Together, the two offices gathered information at a meeting at Bladensburg High School that addressed several northern and mid-county boundary issues; a meeting at James Madison Middle that looked at a number of relocation options for a regional school and boundary issues surrounding the middle school; and at Accokeek Academy where the community talked about overcrowding at the Talented and Gifted (TAG) designated school.

After months of gathering information from the community, Jones-Brown and Maxwell took the data and compiled the CEO’s recommendations for changes for the next school year.

One of the first proposals discussed was a solution for the overcrowding at Accokeek Academy, which is supposed to house a K-8 cohort and is also a TAG designated school.

The boundary changes for the academy were a hot-button issue in 2016, and one of the reasons the board voted to postpone changes was the overwhelming push-back from the community.

This year, the community turned out in numbers to be a part of the decision-making process, but both Sonya Williams, the board member who represents the area, and Tommi Makila, an activist and parent of a student at the school, noted that Maxwell’s proposal did not reflect what the community thought was a consensus.aamodified

“It seemed that we found a consensus approach that everyone could live with,” Makila said. “Considering the hard work that was put into this, I was very surprised and disappointed that the CEO is proposing to move forward with (another option.)”

The proposal brought before the council looked at several factors. Currently Accokeek Academy does not function as a true academy, as it pulls in new students during middle school years, due in part to the current boundaries.

The school is also at 99 percent of its state rated capacity, while nearby Fort Washington Forest Elementary (FWF) is only at 66 percent. The set target for PGCPS is 80-95 percent utilization.

To solve a number of concerns for the area, Maxwell’s proposal includes reassigning “The Preserves” and homes off Danville and Floral Park Road to FWF and Gwynn Park Middle, which was not the communities’ first choice.

The option most preferred by the community was moving the TAG center to FWF and a nearby middle school, or to establish a two-campus academy between FWF and Potomac Landing Elementary.

Jones-Brown, however, said both of those solutions would take more resources and disrupt more students to accomplish. In addition, the two-campus academy would function as a K-3 at one school and a 4-8 at the other due to capacity restrictions.

In response, Williams suggested a phase-in approach with the TAG center relocation that would move the TAG classes from the academy as the next grade was phased in.

At the same time, Boardmember Edward Burroughs, III questioned why anything had to be done to address the overcrowding at Accokeek Academy. Eleanor Roosevelt High School has a similar overcrowding issue due to the school’s program popularity. He said he hasn’t seen any effort to address that similar issue and said he felt it was equitable to only change one.

“When I look at this holistically as a South County issues, I look at schools like Roosevelt in the northern part of the county that are significantly overcrowded, but we don’t touch their boundaries at all because their program is a success. But in the southern part of the county, Accokeek Academy is a success and we’re tampering with the boundaries,” Burroughs said.

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In another change, the CEO also looks to a minor adjustment in North County that would be an interim solution to severe overcrowding at Buck Lodge Middle School until new middle schools are built in the area. Those buildings could take several years to come to fruition.

The proposal would move students in the Calverton Elementary area from Buck Lodge to Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle. The proposal would put both schools over capacity, as the move would more than fill the 202 currently open seats at MLK Jr., but would take some of the strain off Buck Lodge, which cannot accommodate any more temporary classrooms.

In Mount Rainier, the CEO proposes moving students from four planning blocks, located in Mount Rainier, Brentwood and North Brentwood, from Thomas Stone Elementary to Mount Rainier Elementary.

Thomas Stone is over-enrolled by approximately 157 students, while Mount Rainier has 98 available seats.tstoneboundaries

All of the proposed changed zones would still be within the “walking zone” of the school and no additional transportation would be provided by PGCPS.

In another minor change, the CEO proposed reassigning the Kentland neighborhood from DuVal High School to Fairmont Heights High School whose new building will open for the next school year.

The neighborhood is currently within the walk zone for Fairmont Heights, while it is approximately seven miles away from DuVal. Sixty-five school-age students currently live in that zone.

Students from the Margaret Brent Regional School could also be relocated to Fairmont Heights, which has brought concerns from special education advocates and families.

“Preparations for the transfer from Margaret Brent, the transfer of staff, were areas that were expressed as concerns,” Jones-Brown said.

The final recommendation involved the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Melwood Elementary and reassigning students who attend Melwood to James Madison Middle to continue their IB studies.

As of now, these boundary changes are just proposals and the board will vote on them at their Feb. 23 meeting. There are two public hearings on the changes expected within the coming weeks, at Bladensburg High and at the Sasscer Administration Building.

PGCPS has not announced the dates or times.

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Dr. Kevin Maxwell (PGCPS CEO)

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