revealed the desperate state of affairs in critical need of more schools in the northern part of the county. In my district, the schools are literally bursting at the seams due to overcrowding. We have no more room for additional temporary school trailers.”
Taveras urged the board members to consider funding for the construction of four new schools, as well as replace Hyattsville Elementary and Hyattsville Middle schools in cycle 1, which consists of $3 billion and 32 projects to take place from FY 2017-22.
“I also ask that you move up the construction of Nicholas Orem Middle School since it meets the criteria prioritized under Title I — that is overutilization and inadequate school conditions,” Taveras said. “The level of overcrowding is unacceptable and dangerous. We cannot be negligent in addressing what is a threat to physical safety and learning outcomes for our children, and the potential for a much brighter future for our county.”
Next to speak was Joanne Cash, a Temple Hills resident who is the education chairwoman of the Hillcrest Marlow Heights Civic Association. She testified about the need to reconstruct/modernize Benjamin Stoddert Middle School.
“During my observation of the facility, I was able to view some issues and concerns where renovations definitely need to be completed,” said Cash. “One of the things I observed was the third-floor ceiling where you can see large, brown stains from water leakage where preferably, the roof needs some serious improvement. There are doors leading to the stairs that have broken glass in the top portion. There’s also a lot of wear and tear on many of the doors, stairs and the bannisters.”
In addition, Cash said the girls’ restrooms have broken locks or no locks on the stall doors, while some of the receptacles in the stalls are missing or hanging off the wall. All of the windows, along with blinds, need to be replaced as well, she said.
“The building is extremely hot in some areas and cool in others,” she said. “Advocating and protecting our children’s right to learn is crucial. I’m asking the board to expedite a full renovation-replacement project and provide the opportunity for our children to achieve their highest potential in a safe, comfortable and healthy environment at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School.”
Hyattsville resident Daniel Muth, a member of the Hyattsville Elementary PTA, spoke about the impact of school facility issues on the community.
“The facilities at Hyattsville elementary and middle schools are well past their anticipated life spans and are experiencing failing systems and excessive utilization rates,” Muth said. “Hyattsville Elementary is now at 150 percent capacity and is periodically more crowded as parts of the school are shut down to address the many mechanical and structural challenges. … The physical states of our local schools in Hyattsville and around the county are an important component of the community trust in and embrace of our local schools.”
Despite such challenges, Muth said support for Hyattsville elementary and middle schools is high within the community. Thanks to the work of many volunteers and active PTA members, those schools are getting advocacy for more modernization and efficient operations, he said.
“The local PTA and the people of Hyattsville are doing their best to elevate our local schools,” Muth said. “It serves as a catalyst for an inclusive and involved community as a whole. We care deeply about our schools but we also care about our kids. So it’s natural to wonder about class sizes, overcrowding and many of the above problems associated with insufficient facilities.”
The CIP includes detailed capital project funding requests for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, as well as five progressive years of planned capital projects which are prioritized based on school facilities needs as justified in the approved FY 2017 Educational Facilities Master Plan. The CIP and master plan are both fully aligned with the school system’s academic mission and goals as stated in the PGCPS Strategic Plan and the 2015 PGCPS 5-Year Bridge to Excellence Comprehensive Master Plan. according to a PGCPS press release.
The proposed FY 20182023 CIP budget was present to the board of education on Aug. 25 for review and discussion. The final CIP will be presented for approval by the board on Sept. 22. Once approved, the CIP will be forwarded to the county council, county executive as well as the State of Maryland for funding review.
Both the county and state will review the details in anticipation of approving capital funds in the spring.