Pr. George’s schools to hold public hearing Feb. 18 on school boundary, program changes

Boundary changes often evoke strong emotions, with parents worrying that their child could be forced to attend schools with lower test scores or fewer programs.

That was the case at a recent meeting of the Prince George’s County school board, where two young students who currently attend Hyattsville Middle School, which has a creative and performing arts program, made impassioned pleas to be able to attend Northwestern High School next year. Their problem: They live outside the boundaries of the high school.

And the parent of a fifth-grader who attends Barack Obama Elementary School asked the board to revisit its plan to send more sixth-graders to middle schools next year.

On Feb. 18, parents and students will be able to offer additional views to the board, during a meeting specifically called to discuss boundary and program changes.

Four years ago, the county approved a plan that included the closure of eight schools and boundary changes for 62 others, affecting more than 13,000 students. This year, the recommendations are more subtle.

Schools chief Kevin Maxwell wants to redraw the boundary lines for Madison Middle School and Kettering Middle; bring international baccalaureate programs to Melwood Elementary in Upper Marlboro, Eisenhower Middle in Laurel and John Hanson French Immersion in Oxon Hill; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs to Oxon Hill Middle and Thomas Johnson Middle in Lanham.

Maxwell also plans to expand the French-immersion programs at John Hanson and Robert Goddard in Seabrook; the Montessori programs at John Hanson, Judith P. Hoyer and Robert Goddard; and the talented-and-gifted program at Mattaponi Elementary in Upper Marlboro, Kenmoor Middle in Hyattsville and Walker Mill Middle in Capitol Heights. The plan also calls for the creation of a new Spanish immersion program.

The Feb. 18 meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the board meeting room of the Sasscer Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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