Proposed Capital Improvement Program Includes New Schools, Renovations

by Genevieve Demos Kelley
IMG_6326The proposed Fiscal Year 2017-2022 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) master list of projects comes with a hefty price tag. The six-year funding request is more than $2.4 billion, with $1.5 billion requested from the county and $0.9 billion requested from the state.

Here are just a few of the projects on the master list. (Estimated cost given is the total cost over the six-year period from FY 2017 through FY 2022):

  • A new International School at Langley Park (estimated cost: $34,071,762)
  • Two new Northern Area middle schools (estimated cost: $76,300,733 each)
  • A new high school in Planning Area 38, which includes Bladensburg, DuVal, Eleanor Roosevelt, High Point, Laurel, Northwestern, and Parkdale High Schools
    (estimated cost: $133,645,361)

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List of 72 Potential Cell Tower Locations at Prince George’s County Schools

Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools takes no official position on the controversial issue of cell tower construction on school property. The purpose of this post is solely informational.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 10.05.32 PM

Photo Credit: Theodora Scarato

The wireless tower developer Milestone Communications has an agreement with PGCPS that allows the company to build cell towers on school grounds in exchange for financial compensation. Below is the list of 72 Prince George’s County school sites approved for wireless towers. Information is gathered from Milestone Communications’s website.

Most of the locations are listed as “Rawland sites,” meaning that they are approved as possible future locations for wireless towers, but do not have an existing structure on site. For more information, go to Milestone Communications’s website to view the interactive map or download the list of sites.

Sites with Existing Structures

Carroll Middle School, New Carrollton
Flowers High School , Upper Marlboro
Green Valley Academy, Temple Hills
Kenmoor Middle School, Landover
Oxon Hill Middle School, Ft. Washington

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Classrooms Too Hot or Too Cold? Here Are the PGCPS Thermostat Settings Regulations

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

We have heard from teachers, parents, and students from across the county who are concerned about 20150515_104837the classroom temperatures at their schools. One teacher at a county middle school writes:

On Friday May 15th, [2015] my classroom was 64 degrees F. On Tuesday May 19th, my classroom was 81 degrees F. Despite continual emails to the school administration asking about the cooling system’s condition, there was no response.

The next day, on May 20th, I took my class outside, to the front courtyard, because my room was just as hot and humid as the day before. Ironically, another teacher from down the hall took her students outside to the rear courtyard because her classroom was so cold.  Another teacher brought in gloves, a scarf, and hat because she said her classroom temperature dropped below 60 degrees F.

So, how hot or cold are classrooms supposed to be? How about bathrooms, health rooms, and hallways? The Building Services Department has answers on its website. The “PGPCPS Seasonal Temperature Standards” are designated as Energy Conservation/ Bulletins S-46-96 and S-90-93, regulating thermostat settings for facilities in the school system.

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Consulting Firm’s Report Recommends Specific Facilities Improvements for Area Schools

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

What renovations does your child’s school need? Precisely how overcrowded or underutilized is your school building? Which facility improvement projects in the county should have highest priority?

IMG_6353The Master Plan Support Project (MPSP) final report, now available online, details an in-depth facilities assessment conducted during the 2014-2015 school year by the consulting firm Brailsford and Dunlavey. The document reports on the educational adequacy and overall condition of school facilities across the county and includes detailed recommendations for capital improvement projects. Each school is assigned a priority ranking, so that the most urgent needs will be addressed first. The report also recommends 29 school closures and eight new school construction projects1. In all, $8.5 billion of capital improvements projects are recommended over the next 20 years.

Find the Report for Your School

Volume Two of the report contains an Educational Adequacy Field Report for each school built before 1999. Each school’s report contains several pages of notes, scores, and charts evaluating the adequacy of facilities to support learning. In addition, each school’s capacity, enrollment, and projected enrollment are analyzed. (The capacity data is provided for newly built schools as well as those built before 1999.)

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Facilities Operations Fared Worst in Most Recent School Climate Survey

Today is the last day to take the 2015 School Climate Survey. Parents received an email in June from the Department of Research and Evaluation with an invitation to participate in the survey and an individualized survey code. Parents cannot take the survey without the code, but students may use their student identification numbers and access the survey here.

The most recent survey, given in 2013, paints a picture of stakeholders’ satisfaction in several areas (called “subscales” in the analysis) such as relevant curriculum, safety and discipline, effective teaching, and amount of parental involvement that affect their schools’ overall climate. According to the Department of Research and Evaluation, as of 2013 a “substantial majority of the district’s key stakeholder groups has a positive perception of their schools’ climate.”

Source: PGCPS Dept. of Research and Evaluation, 2013

Source: PGCPS Dept. of Research and Evaluation, 2013

For students, “Effective Plant Operations” (i.e. facilities and equipment) was the area that was least favorably perceived, with only about half expressing a positive perception. (For example, at Greenbelt Elementary School, the single survey item that had the smallest percentage of favorable responses at 23.4% was, “The bathroom at my school is clean.”) In contrast, parents in the district, who spend less time in school buildings, had a much more favorable view of facilities, with 83% expressing a positive perception. About 64% of teachers expressed a positive perception.

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Consulting Firm Recommends 29 School Closures and $8.5 Billion Over 20 Years in Capital Improvements

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Prince George’s County Public Schools should spend $8.5 billion over 20 years on capital improvement projects — including school construction, modernization, and renovation — according to recommendations made by the consulting firm Brailsford and Dunlavey. Recommendations also included 29 school closures.

What is the Master Plan Support Project?

In the fall of 2014, PGCPS began its Master Plan Support Project (MPSP), as part of an effort to optimize its capital improvements. The facilities planning and program management firm Brailsford and Dunlavey was hired to study facility conditions and make recommendations on prioritizing school construction and renovation projects.

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A Local Parent Raises Questions about Cell Tower Deal

This piece is contributed by Theodora Scarato, a Prince George’s County parent who has helped to organize Safe Schools for Prince George’s County, an advocacy group that opposes cell towers on school grounds. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Prince George’s County Advcoates for Better Schools.

The Prince George’s County School Cell Tower Deal

Seventy-three Prince George’s County Schools are now available as cell tower sites by the Board of Education. Several towers are in the process of permitting and construction. Many parents hear about this plan and instinctively think that it’s a bad idea.

Over the last year, I have worked with parents, homeowner asociations, and community organizations that are opposed to these towers. Here is what I learned. I have more questions than answers.

The cell tower agreement is a no-bid deal. A Virginia-based company (not minority-owned), Milestone Communications, is the only company that has a leasing deal for towers with Prince George’s County Schools. This agreement was made without bids or RfPs for the best price. There was no competition considered. Why does only Milestone get the leases? How was this no-bid deal hatched?

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School Mistakenly Sends Email to Mother Concerned about Mold in the Classrooms

From ABC 7, by Chris Papst, Published on May 29, 2015. Go here for the full story.

TEMPLE HILLS, Md. (WJLA) — A Prince George’s County mom who pulled her child out of school because she said mold in the building was making her daughter sick may be onto something. The 7 On Your Side I-Team obtained a document the district accidentally released explaining how mold could possibly have been in the school.

In this age of spreadsheets and word documents it’s easy to see how someone could send the wrong attachment in an email. But in this case that wrong attachment included information the Prince George’s County School District apparently did not want public.

$2 Billion Backlog in Repairs and Upgrades, Master Plan Support Project Identifies Renovation Priorities

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

The department of Capital Programs has identified $2 billion in needed PGCPS facility repairs and upgrades. With the current rate of annual funding for repairs — roughly $130 million per year — it will take more than 20 years to clear the backlog.

Begun in the fall of 2014, the Master Plan Support Project (MPSP) was designed to prioritize school construction and renovation projects, considering the mission, condition, and function of each facility. To assist with this project, PGCPS awarded a $1.47 million consulting contract to the program management firm Brailsford & Dunlavey in October 2014. Working with PGCPS staff, Brailsford & Dunlavey consultant teams have visited schools built before 1999, evaluating building conditions in order to update the Facilities Condition Index from the 2012 Parsons Report (go here for the PowerPoint summary of the 2012 report). The final MPSP report, including the firm’s recommendations to the Board of Education, will be posted in May 2015.

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