Alternatives to School Closings: One Resident’s View

The following is written testimony submitted by community member and longtime youth advocate Denise Joseph in advance of tonight’s Public Hearing on the proposed boundary changes, and school consolidations. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

Greetings,

I would like to provide some ideas and suggestions as testimony for upcoming school decisions to be considered to help improve schools:

I would like to see PGCPS apply for grants to renovate and improve schools. Some grants to be considered are from the Gates Foundation, Microsoft, U.S. Department of Education or other organizations that specialize in grants for CIP funding.

I propose that Fort Washington Forest Elementary should become an ESOL or Spanish Immersion School to help populate the school so that it does not have to be part of the consolidation plan. I think that you should also consider a home school partnership program to help with the under enrollment, since the home school population is high in this area.

Please consider creating a middle years program at Stephen Decatur Middle to help with the enrollment and reduce the overcrowding of nearby schools.

I would like to see the creation of a 6-12 grade model, secondary school at Friendly High School, similar to Hayfield Secondary in Fairfax County Public Schools

Bring back the military academy to Forestville High School and make it a military career academy and partner with several branches of the military and possibly Andrews Air Force base. You can also partner with colleges that specialize in the military like VMI and Navy to encourage high school graduation and help students to become college and career ready. This will help with enrollment but will also help capture a portion of the students that might not go directly to college after graduation or drop out before graduating. This in turn will help the Prince George’s economy and tax base and provide hope to students that feel hopeless and trapped, because they feel like their only option is college.

Set up an Entrepreneur Academy at Frederick Douglass High School. This can be a career academy and can capture the population of students that want to become business owners, that may drop of school early but it will also help with school enrollment and will ultimately help the tax-base of the county. You can partner with the Small Business and Minority Business organizations as well as the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations that train and help business owners to become successful.

Open a youth job training center at Friendly High school and an agricultural science program with a community garden in conjunction with working with 4H. This will help with enrollment, it will help with growing the Youth@Work Program, and it will capture an audience of students who live and desire to work in rural and agricultural areas. This can also be a career academy.

Create the same agricultural science program at Gwynn Park High School. They already have a community garden, and there is interest in that area because of their existing program and their location near farms.

If schools do close or get consolidated, even with the currently unused school buildings, maybe they can become:

  • A non-profit hub
  • Youth job-training center
  • Another homeless youth center, to add to Promise Place’s 25 beds

It is my hope that these ideas get discussed and considered to help improve students at Prince George’s county schools but also to help with retention, graduation and employment rates in our county.

One thought on “Alternatives to School Closings: One Resident’s View

  1. Beth McCracken-Harness says:

    We could also use some special ed schools. PGCPS’s new budget quadrupled the amount it is paying to send kids to private schools that have strong supports for kids with special needs. Parents have to fight for years to get their kids in non-public placement, and this results in some kids missing years of appropriate education. It would help kids and save PGCPS money if PGCPS either provided more robust supports in PGCPS schools or used these buildings as its own special ed schools.

    Liked by 1 person

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