First-grader Edward Stewart walked to the podium during a recent Prince George’s County Board of Education meeting and calmly stated his case to the board members.
“I love Perrywood School and I want to stay,” he said. “Please let me and my friends stay.”
Stewart, his fifth-grade brother, Jacob, his mother, Amanda, and a couple of other parents made a similar plea: Don’t change the boundary lines for Perrywood Elementary School in Upper Marlboro.
Schools Chief Kevin M. Maxwell’s program changes would affect 20 schools and require about 3,000 students to attend different schools next year.
When the time came for the board to vote on the proposal, Board member Verjeana Jacobs (District 5) suggested that the 67 students affected by the boundary change remain at Perrywood, rather than move to Kettering.
Maxwell said he stood by his entire proposal.
Board member Zabrina Epps (District 1) asked if the item could be tabled so that the parents and board could have more time to consider the change.
Maxwell said more time was not going to change anything, noting that there had been several public hearings to discuss the changes.
Board Chairman Segun Eubanks said boundary changes tend to create tension as parents worry that the new school that their child will attend is not at the same academic level as their current school.
“It’s time that we deliver a message that all of our schools are great,” Eubanks said.
Another board member suggested grandfathering students to allow them to stay at Perrywood.
Maxwell said: “If you grandfather everyone in, you haven’t done a boundary change.”
In order to reject Maxwell’s plan, the board needed a two-thirds majority opposed to it.
The board voted 6-6.
Then, the board worked out a compromise with Maxwell. The transfer office would give “special consideration” to fourth and fifth graders and their siblings before a transfer is made.
The board approved the change unanimously.