THE CHILDREN of baby boomers are now heading to high schools; in Prince George's County, nearly 5,000 high schoolers already are crammed into trailers. But turf wars among the school board, the school district chief and the County Council threaten to make matters worse. Already, political egonomics is overshadowing decision-making to a point where the school district could wind up having to spend $6.8 million on 111 additional makeshift classrooms, many of them spilling out across athletic fields and parking lots.
As reported by The Post's Nancy Trejos and Ovetta Wiggins, the board and the council have agreed to build one additional high school, and they have acknowledged that won't be enough. But that's where the disagreements begin: The school board decided it would be best to expand existing campuses, saying that building yet another school would take too much time. Council members objected to that plan and have formed a task force to come up with a recommendation by the end of September.
School officials argue that the problem has been studied enough, and they're right. Council members counter that expanding five aging facilities is unwise for many reasons, and they're right. Another high school ought to be built. School district chief Andre J. Hornsby, who has had more than a few run-ins with the council, was miffed when the council voted against a plan to begin expansion construction immediately. Mr. Hornsby and his deputies walked out of a meeting with council members moments after the vote, as one council member was in mid-sentence. Council members shot off a letter to school board Chairman Beatrice P. Tignor, charging that the action "demonstrated great disrespect for the elected legislative body . . . and was, at best, unprofessional." Mr. Hornsby said later that council members "knew I had to leave" to catch a plane. School board members said that what the council considers oversight amounts to meddling.
Enough already. The county doesn't need another round of wrestling matches over respect, prerogatives and petty concerns. It needs classrooms, and not in expanded schools with more than 2,400 students. Council member Peter A. Shapiro makes the point that expansions are not the way to go for the long run. "We're going to need the capacity. Why not give the students that highest-quality facility?"
School board Vice Chairman Howard W. Stone Jr. sides with his colleagues but makes a common-sense pitch for conciliation: "I just think we should settle down, communicate with one another and try to overcome this issue." How many takers?