Prince George’s schools to seek $3 million grant from Carnegie Corporation for high schools for English language learners

The Prince George’s Board of Education voted Thursday to enter into a partnership with the Internationals Network of Public Schools and CASA de Maryland, in hopes of obtaining a $3 million grant from a New York-based foundation to open two high schools for English language learners.

The grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which would run from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2017, would also be used to support the Opportunity by Design initiative.

The opening of the schools — which would be designed for students who are at-risk, economically disadvantaged, English language learners and first-generation college-bound students — is contingent upon funding and space. Schools Chief Kevin M. Maxwell said the school system would use the funding in the first year to work on design and hiring administrators.

“We need to have additional options for our second language learners,” said Maxwell, who signed the agreement last week because the grant application deadline was looming but still needed the school board to approve the agreement.

Eight members of the board voted to enter the partnership.

Board members Edward Burroughs (District 8) and Zabrina Epps (District 1) abstained. Burroughs said he was not opposed to the idea. He had a conflict of interest.

Four members were absent.

The Prince George’s County Public Schools CASA-Internationals Community Schools would instill a “college-going culture” among its students, according to the proposal. Students that are accepted into the program would be encouraged to attend a summer bridge program before entering ninth grade.

Max Pugh, a spokesman for the school system, said it is unclear at this point whether the schools would be operated as a “school within a school” or in separate existing buildings.

If funding is granted, the schools would each start with 100 ninth-grade students. Each school would primarily focus on English Language Learners. One school would focus specifically on those students who are new to the school system and have been in the United States for four years or less.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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