School planners have released a preliminary boundary proposal for the new high school that will open in Springdale in the fall. The massive plan that will affect more than 6,600 students at 13 existing high schools is part of the county's effort to phase out 27 years of court-ordered cross-county busing to achieve racial balance in schools.
The new school--unofficially dubbed Ardmore High after the road that leads to it--is designed to hold 2,200 students, but it will open with only ninth- and 10th-graders.
School planners stress that current 10th- and 11th-graders at other county high schools will not be affected by the boundary shifts. Students now in ninth grade will be allowed to remain at their current high school, provided the school is not severely crowded.
Students in academic magnet programs, English as a second language or special-education programs will have the option of continuing such programs at a high school that supports the program.
Ardmore will have a science and technology program that is not a magnet but rather a competitive-entry program, similar to the ones at Eleanor Roosevelt and Oxon Hill high schools. Students must pass a test to get into the program, for which 600 seats will be reserved.
As school boundaries are redrawn, planners are trying to bring children to schools closer to home. They also consider school crowding, and the court settlement stipulated that officials must try to encourage racial diversity "to the extent practicable."
Those interested in the proposed changes can view the boundary proposal and see how it affects their street address by checking the school system's Web site, www.pgcps.org, or by going directly to the proposal at: http://transportation.pgcps.org/
boundaries/hsbdy.asp. Copies also may be reviewed at the high schools affected by the proposal, which are: Bladensburg, Bowie, Central, Crossland, DuVal, Eleanor Roosevelt, Fairmont Heights, Forestville, High Point, Largo, Northwestern, Parkdale and Suitland.
The boundary changes are part of an ongoing effort by the school system to phase out the racial desegregation busing. In 1998, the school system, county government and NAACP agreed in federal court on a plan to end the busing.
In 1972, when the desegregation order came in Prince George's, the school system was about 85 percent white and 12 percent black.
This year, the system is about 77 percent black and 13 percent white. The majority of children bused outside their neighborhoods are African American, many to schools that are majority black.
The plan to phase out busing for desegregation included building 13 schools, of which Ardmore is one. Since then, school and county officials have said they will need to build up to 26 schools to handle the redistricting and to ease crowding in the 131,000-student system.
Magnet and competitive-entry specialty programs are two ways officials are trying to encourage voluntary integration.
Several community groups, including the NAACP and the school system's 100-member Community Advisory Council, composed of parents, will monitor the boundary shifts.
Donna Beck, a parent who lives in Upper Marlboro and an advisory council member, said: "We have to be very conscious about one-race schools. We don't have a way of monitoring something by economic class, but that's high on our agenda, too."
Since the average age of the county's 185 schools is 36 years, many parents are eager to get their children into a new school like Ardmore High, which they believe will have newer and better resources than the other schools. Questions about equity and fair allocation of resources have grown louder as parents watched officials pour funds into construction of new schools while the list of renovations planned at older schools dwindled.
Bill Greene, the school system's planning director, said that his office already has received numerous calls and electronic mail from parents who want their children to be included inside the Ardmore boundaries.
"People want to go to Ardmore," Greene said. "I wish all neighborhoods could go to a brand new school."
He noted that Superintendent Iris T. Metts has drafted a plan that would build 26 schools and renovate all buildings older than 16 years, but it will cost $2.9 billion, far more than county officials say they can afford.
Although county planners project that the boundary shifts will ease crowding within five years at many high schools--including Eleanor Roosevelt, Largo and Bowie, the county's three most crowded schools--the plan will not help other schools in that regard.
Parents at Frederick Douglass High in Upper Marlboro are concerned that projections show that school being at 154.9 percent capacity in the 2004-05 school year, up from its current 135 percent, Beck said.
Meanwhile, school board member Kenneth E. Johnson (Mitchellville), whose district includes the new high school, intends to propose naming it Charles Herbert Flowers High School to honor a man who once served as a flight instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen, the squadron of African American aviators who served in the Army Air Forces during World War II.
But some county residents say that school board rules prohibit naming schools after living people. They favor other names, including Springdale-Ardmore High; James C. Fletcher High, after a late former mayor of Landover; or G. Van Standifer High, after the late founder of the Midnight Basketball League.
Johnson said that the board can waive those requirements and that he came to favor Flowers after a community group pitched the name several years ago.
The boundary proposal for Ardmore High is a draft. Changes could be made by the county Board of Education, which will vote on the final plan Feb. 24.
The second of two public hearings will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, 7601 Hanover Pkwy., Greenbelt.
Comments also may be submitted by e-mail to Bill Greene, the system's director of pupil accounting and school boundaries, at email@example.com. Voice messages may be left at 301-627-4278.
The school system has released proposed boundaries for the new high school (unofficially called Ardmore) that will open this fall in Springdale. Thirteen existing high schools will be affected by the proposal. Here is a list of those schools and how their enrollments and demographics are projected to change in five years if the boundary changes are adopted by the school board:
Capacity Diversity Poverty
School 1999 2004 1999 2004 1999 2004
Bladensburg 75.4% 95.8% 76.7% 76.6% 37.0% 35.6%
Bowie 129.3 122.2 46.3 36.1 9.4 4.8
Central 106.3 102.6 84.9 96.5 32.3 34.5
Crossland 77.8 79.7 94.2 92.7 21.8 21.1
DuVal 80.8 106.9 92.5 83.8 25.9 24.2
Fairmont 93.3 100.8 93.3 98.6 31.6 33.5
Forestville 72.6 88.6 98.3 97.0 43.5 38.4
High Point 92.6 102.4 53.7 52.7 29.7 28.4
Largo 121.5 105.1 96.5 94.2 13.5 12.4
Northwestern 97.9 91.9 69.2 62.9 34.1 31.2
Parkdale 106.3 97.2 77.3 75.6 36.0 33.1
Roosevelt 138.0 111.5 57.9 56.2 16.7 21.0
Suitland 98.4 105.9 91.7 96.8 15.7 18.9
Ardmore** n/a 95.4 n/a 96.0 n/a 21.6
* Capacity: How full the building is compared with how many students it was designed to hold.
* Diversity: Percentage of African American students at the school.
* Poverty: Percentage of students living in poverty who attend the school.
** Ardmore will open in August.
SOURCE: Prince George's County Public Schools.