In his first public appearance before the Prince George’s County Council, Schools Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell said Tuesday that he is evaluating the district’s specialty programs, surveying underutilized schools and analyzing how grades are distributed in schools.
Maxwell said the district, which has experienced a drop in enrollment over the last several years, has a number of schools that are under capacity, and “there is some question of whether they should be closed.”
But as he weighs an expansion of speciality programs and the creation of new ones, he said he has to consider whether closing schools is a good idea. He said the school system also needs to find out how many children are not enrolled in the public school system and “how many we could reasonably get to come back.”
Maxwell said he is also looking at the grade structure of schools. For example, some schools in the county are kindergarten through eighth grade, while some are kindergarten through sixth grade. Some schools have sixth grade through eighth grade.
Maxwell said no decisions have been made about specialty programs or school usage but “how we allocate the space is as much a part of the conversation.”
Maxwell, who began his career in the county, said he has spent the last four months visiting 66 schools, getting reacquainted with a system he left 13 years ago.
“I’ve seen some excellent things that are happening in our schools . . . and I’ve seen some things not above average, and I’ll leave it at that,” Maxwell said.
“We’re in a position of analyzing what our assets are,” he said.
Maxwell fielded about two dozen questions from the council members ranging from retaining teachers to improving safety to ensuring equity.
Maxwell has met with council members individually and at other community meetings, but Tuesday’s briefing was the first time he addressed questions from the council.
Will Campos (D-Hyattsville) said he and other Latino officials recently met with Maxwell to discuss the needs of the Latino population.
Campos told Maxwell he supports a Spanish language immersion program, which Maxwell has previously said he was exploring. Campos also urged Maxwell to increase the number of Hispanic teachers in the system.
Campos said there are some schools where the Hispanic population is near 80 percent, and there are no Hispanic teachers.
Maxwell said he recently hired a diversity officer to focus on Latino affairs. Part of her job will be to develop a recruitment plan to increase the number of Hispanic teachers, he said.