Prince George's shelves idea for school in Fairwood

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 12, 2011; 7:55 PM

Prince George's County school officials have once again postponed plans to build an elementary school in Fairwood, a planned community near Bowie.

Fairwood residents have been fighting for their own school for more than six years. But Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Wednesday night that "there's no way to move that project forward" at this point, as state officials have decided there is no need for it.

Hite had considered closing one of two aging elementary schools in the Bowie area to once again validate the need for the Fairwood school. News of that idea last week drew criticism from dozens of parents at the schools marked for possible closure, Glenn Dale and Tulip Grove.

The school board had planned to hold a community meeting Wednesday night to hear feedback from those parents, but it was canceled after Hite's decision to delay the project.

"The two potentially impacted schools ... have been very clear in their interest in keeping their neighborhood schools," Hite said. "There's really no reason to sit in a community meeting and hear what I've already heard from parents."

Fairwood residents have been lobbying lawmakers and school officials for more than six years. They were elated to learn late last spring that millions of dollars in state and county funds had been dedicated to construction, said Steve Brigham, chairman of the Fairwood Education Task Force.

But then the county redrew school boundaries and moved sixth-graders to local middle schools, lowering enrollment projections and losing the justification to build the new school. In an effort to save the Fairwood Elementary School project, Hite suggested closing nearby Glenn Dale or Tulip Grove.

Although the Fairwood project has been delayed, Hite said it has not been killed. Future school-boundary changes could restore the need for the school, he said.

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