The Prince George's school board Thursday unanimously approved a massive school rezoning plan that will send more than 1,500 students who live on and around Andrews Air Force Base to schools closer to their homes in the fall, despite complaints that the moves will result in racially and economically segregated schools.
School officials say the plan will affect students at 15 schools in the southern portion of the county and will speed the process of ending 26 years of busing to achieve racial integration. The county plans to build a new elementary school near the base in 2001 to accommodate population growth and school boundary changes. School officials acknowledged that the shift of students may decrease the diversity of the schools they are leaving. Those schools would receive extra money and resources, and some may get magnet programs to help encourage voluntary diversity, said Bill Greene, who oversees school boundary changes.
But representatives of the Prince George's chapter of the NAACP say the board should not have approved such boundary changes until it builds new schools in predominantly poor and black neighborhoods to help ensure equity. Edythe Hall, chapter president, said the group's lawyer will review the changes to see whether they meet the terms of the desegregation settlement. The school board agreed to build 13 new schools in a settlement reached last year to end 26 years of court-ordered busing.