The Prince George’s County Board of Education approved a contract Thursday night with a new charter school in Hyattsville after several members raised concerns about how students were selected for the program.
The 12 to 0 vote came a week after the board shelved the contract because of some questions about the lottery system, academic achievement goals and criminal background checks. School board member Edward Burroughs III (District 8) was absent.
College Park Academy, which has ties to the University of Maryland, is scheduled to open in August and intends to offer classes for 291 sixth- and seventh-graders. The school eventually plans to provide classes for middle and high school students and offer college-credit opportunities.
“I am going to support this but I am deeply concerned with the demographic data,” said school board member Donna Hathaway Beck (District 9), who said few students from the southern part of the county will attend the new school.
Almost 35 percent of the students who will attend College Park Academy do not currently attend the county’s public school system. Hathaway Beck said that number is too high.
“I know it is our desire to lure back” children who have left the school system, she said. “We want children returning to us . . . [but] we have students that have been with us all this time and are not duly represented.”
Under the contract, College Park Academy agreed to have the school system coordinate the lottery system in the future.
Board members said they plan to review the county’s charter procedures to ensure that there is equity in the process.
“We want to make sure we service our entire population,” school board member Verjeana Jacobs (District 5) said. She added that the school system also has to make certain that there is transparency in the process.
In other business, the board approved the school system’s $1.7 billion budget on a 9 to 0 vote, with board members Carletta Fellows (District 8), Beverly Anderson and Curtis Valentine, who were sworn in last week, abstaining.