BOWIE, Md. - As the Prince George's County's Board of Education looks for a new leader, the school system's newly-named interim superintendent is doing his best to reassure parents and teachers.
"My primary focus will be on the achievement, the continued achievement, of our students," says interim Superintendent Alvin Crawley.
Crawley starts work as the interim superintendent of Prince George's County Public Schools Sept. 4, and is eager for input from the community.
"I will have an open office, (and) would like for you to drop in and share your perspectives," Crawley told a "Moving Forward Forum" put on by the school board Tuesday night at Bowie High School.
School Board Chairwoman Verjeana Jacobs says the district has a lot for which to be proud.
"We have seen reading and math scores consistently up, pass rates on our MSAs [Maryland State Assessment tests] have improved on all grade levels -- every single one since 2004," says Jacobs.
But during the forum, several teachers stood up to say they desperately need pay raises.
"At this point, we're at risk of losing our home because I can't afford to pay my bills," says teacher Dionne Lyles.
"My concern is, as a teacher of seven years, I am still being paid as a first-year teacher," says Eric LeMaster who teaches Advanced Placement psychology and coaches girls volleyball.
"How are we going to retain our good teachers? Because what's going to keep me here after my kids graduate?"
Contract negotiations with teachers are continuing.
Ron Johnson, who also stood up to speak, said he is not only worried about finding a new superintendent, but making sure that person stays awhile and provides consistency.
"How do we keep our superintendent in this county?" Johnson asked the room.
Jacobs thinks the answer is a community with a positive attitude.
"Prince George's County is a great place to be, but as a community we need to do a better job. We need to stop tearing ourselves down," Jacobs says.
Another public forum about the search for a new superintendent is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville.
In the future, the school system will hold more community forums to develop a profile of the type of leader the it wants.
The plan is to have a new superintendent in place by July of next year.
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