A citizens committee appointed by the Prince George's County school board approved a plan last night that would reduce busing for desegregation in the county by 25 percent, allowing approximately 3,600 elementary students to attend schools in or closer to their neighborhoods.
The plan has to be approved by the school board. The committee was appointed last fall to draft a plan that would reduce busing without resegregating schools.
Under the committee plan, approximately 1,400 of the students involved would be able to walk to neighborhood schools. The other 2,200 students would be able to take shorter bus rides to schools nearer their neighborhoods.
At present, 16,000 of the county's 60,000 elementary students are bused to schools outside their communities under a desegregation program. The committee made no recommendations for junior and senior high schools. The school board is considering adopting a system of four-year high schools which could eventually lead to school closings.
The county school board has been unable to come up with its own busing plan that would not resegregate the schools. Last year, the board considered but failed to adopt six plans in as many months.
The county school system, which underwent court ordered desegregation in 1973 has been partially resegregated because of changes in the racial and housing patterns of the county.
The advisory committee found that a complete return to neighborhood schools would lead to a dramatic increase in the number of one-race schools.
The committee plan eliminates busing that has the least effect on school racial percentages.
Approximately 77 of the county's 145 elementary schools are affected.
"We're going to take a bunch of kids off the buses and we're not going to resegregate the schools," said committee chairman Emerson Markham. "I think we've done our job. We've come up with what we could agree upon."
The board is expected to review the plan next month.