If you have a child or grandchild in a public school in Prince George's County, especially in the northern area, or if you've visited a school to vote or for a community meeting, you know that the large majority of our schools buildings are old and overcrowded.
As I shared at my District 3 School Infrastructure Update a month ago, I believe we are at crucial time to do something big to address our school infrastructure needs--including new schools, renovations, and major upgrades such as HVAC. I'm writing today to share information about the challenge and encourage you to advocate with me for solutions for our children and our communities.
The schools our District 3 children attend are overcrowded today and have been overcrowded for years.
This image is from the December 2018 quarterly report of the PGCPS CIP office. The red portion indicates an average school utilization rate of greater than 105%; yellow indicates an average utilization rate of 80%-105%; blue indicates a rate of 80% or less.
Many schools in District 3 have utilization rates that are even higher. Charles Carroll Middle, for example is at 160% utilization: 1,307 students attend a school that was built for 817 students. Other schools have trended differently. Riverdale Elementary was at 131% in 2013 and at 121% in 2018--still incredibly overcrowded and maxed out on temporary classrooms on the property. Paint Branch Elementary, with it's incredible Chinese Immersion Program, was at 89% in 2013 and only 82% utilization in 2017. Click here for an overview of the utilization rates for many of the schools in District 3 and schools which District 3 students attend.
PGCPS simply does not receive enough capital funding from the State or the County to fund all of the repair, renovation, and new building needs each year and so the
Cycle 1 plan
continues to get pushed back.
What Are Our County and State Leaders Doing?
After years of advocacy and planning, two new middle school buildings are moving forward to relieve overcrowding for students in Council Districts 3 and 5. A brand
new William Wirt Middle School
will be built adjacent to the current school and is anticipated to open in 2021. An entirely
new middle school
is also on track to be build in the area of Glenridge Park and open in 2022.
In recognition of a need to explore new and innovative methods to construct, finance, maintain, and operate public school construction and replacement projects, the Co
uncil passed CR-33-2018 to create a Public Private Partnership Alternative Financi
ng School Infrastructure Program Workgroup.
Last year, the Maryland General Assembly passed SB-92-2018, Public School Construction - Innovation Incentive Pilot Program, to establish an incentive pilot program to encourage local school systems in Hartford, Prince George's, and Washington counties to pursu
e innovative, cost-saving public school construction projects. The new Cherokee Lane Elementary School is being built using this model.
HB-727 Build to Learn Act of 2019 is in front of the Maryland General Assembly right now. It would establish
the Prince George's County Alternative Financing Fund to provide supplemental State funds to build and modernize County schools.
PGCPS estimates that through public, private partnerships and contingent on the passage of HB-727 this year, we can deliver one new high school, eight middle schools, and nine elementary schools by 2026, while still following prevailing wage regulations and local and minority business requirements. Funding schools this way enables PGCPS to get more schools built more quickly and have them better maintained for years after.
What Can You Do?
Our children need and deserve new and renovated facilities NOW. Please join me in advocating for our students today!
Urge the Board of Education to move forward on Cycle 1. Click here for contact information and here for the meeting schedule.
Thank our House leaders for supporting, and urge our Senate leaders to vote for passage of HB-727 - Build to Learn Act of 2019 and support additional funding for our schools. Click here to contact your state representatives.
Advocate to the Prince George's County Council during the County budget process to urge continued investment in school facilities.
Thank you for all you do for our community.
As always, feel free to reach out to a member of my District 3 team or me if we can help you in any way. #onlytogether
Together Strengthening Our Community,
P.S. Check my Facebook and Twitter pages for further updates.