New Prince George’s schools chief Kevin Maxwell takes questions from residents

Kevin M. Maxwell, the new chief executive of Prince George’s County schools, took to the airwaves Monday to offer residents a glimpse of his plans for the school district.

During an interview on “The Kojo Nnamdi Show,” Maxwell took questions about luring middle-class students back to the public school system, the challenges of having more students from poor families, and the inequities caused by private donations from parents.

For those who questioned whether Maxwell’s selection means stability for Maryland’s second-largest school system, with 123,000 students, the new schools chief said he plans to stick around.

“I look forward to renewing my contract,” said Maxwell, who recently signed a four-year contract, earning $290,000 in his first year.

Maxwell also shared his views on standardized testing. He doesn’t agree with Montgomery Superintendent Joshua P. Starr on suspending them temporarily, but he isn’t a fan of them either, like former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.

“I would put myself somewhere in the middle,” Maxwell said. “I’m not in favor of a moratorium, nor do I think they are the only way to rate schools.”

Maxwell said bringing middle-class families back to the school system was “critically important.” He said he plans to let theses families know “we value them” and offer more specialty programs to attract them to the system.

He said a growing number of students from poor families should not “be looked at as an impediment to achievement.” And he suggested that public resources make up for the inequities that some schools experience because less private money is raised for projects.

He also appeared on WHUR (96.3 FM) on Monday night.

Residents will have an opportunity to talk face to face with Maxwell on Tuesday night at a “meet and greet” hosted by the Board of Education. The forum, at 6 p.m. at DuVal High School in Lanham, is the last of three to be held since Maxwell was hired.

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.

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