CMIT Academy in Laurel will be allowed to expand, Pr. George’s school board decides

Two contracts that will allow a charter school based in Laurel to expand its operations have been approved by the Prince George’s County Board of Education.

The action took place Thursday night, at the first board meeting since school reopened. It was also the first meeting for new schools chief Kevin M. Maxwell.

Chesapeake Math and IT (CMIT) Academy will be open to students in kindergartene through fifth grade during the 2014 school year, under a new agreement with the school system. Fifty students will be in each grade level.

Chesapeake opened in 2011 with plans to offer classes for grades 6 to 12.

The board, under recommendation from Maxwell, also approved a contract that allows Chesapeake to replicate its current middle-/high-school program in the southern part of the county.

More than 650 students applied to attend the Laurel program this year.

Chesapeake will pay for the new plans with a $400,000 Race To the Top federal grant.

Board member Verjeana M. Jacobs (District 5) suggested that the contract be amended to require that the lottery for applications be conducted by the school system, not the charter itself. “I just think there needs to be transparency,” Jacobs said.

She also recommended that the charter have to report its receipt of grants and gifts twice a year, instead of once annually.

Both suggestions were agreed to by the board.

The votes on the charter came after the board welcomed Maxwell to his first board meeting since his selection as schools chief.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the community that I have lived in since second grade, and to return to the school district where I began my career in education,” Maxwell said in his opening remarks. “I have seen steady progress in student achievement over the past five years and will build on this foundation as we begin to work together to move our school district forward to higher levels.”

Maxwell said he plans to spend the next six months “listening, observing and learning” about the school district.

He plans to visit schools to look at class size, facility conditions and utilization to see “what’s working and what isn’t, and where we have options for expansion of successful programs.”

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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