Frustrated parents speak out against Prince George’s Co. Public Schools boundary changes

The Prince George’s County Board of Education is considering a plan that would overhaul school boundaries throughout the Maryland county, hoping to find balance between the number of schools that are overcrowded and the schools that are under-enrolled.

Two schools — Concord Elementary in Capitol Heights and Pointer Ridge Elementary in Bowie — could close at the end of the year, and many others could see changes.

Opposition to the plans from Pointer Ridge parents dominated the first of two public hearings held Thursday night.

“Pointer Ridge has done an excellent job of fostering a sense of community for all of its students and all of its family members,” said Darius Hyman, the school’s PTA president. “It’s like a big family.”

Rhonda Billingslea echoed, “The teachers are like family to the people of the community. ” If the changes go through, she expressed concern that “kids will have to adjust to an already overcrowded Northview Elementary School, Perrywood Elementary School, and an increase in class sizes at Woodmore Elementary.”

Billingslea and others, including Kristy Tull, a math teacher at Pointer Ridge, also wondered if the school board had taken new developments being built in the school district into account.

More than 1,500 new homes are under construction in the South Lakes and Amber Ridge developments, which are both in the Pointer Ridge school district.

“Why consolidate a neighborhood school when two new communities are being built?,” asked Tull. “South Bowie is rapidly expanding. How will large class sizes be addressed after consolidation?”

“Where will the kids of South Lakes and Amber Lakes attend school?” asked Billingslea.

Since 2014, the county has added about 11,000 students into its classrooms, though some schools have expanded faster than others. The county expects another 7,000 students to enroll in the coming years.

Another common theme during the hearing, from both Pointer Ridge parents and parents whose children could be moved to another school, was the impact another disruption would have after the pandemic-generated turmoil over the last two years.

“My son’s life has been disrupted time and time again since March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Rachel Orozco, whose son goes to Bond Mill Elementary in Laurel. “We’re finally settled in a great school with a great routine. We love the administrators. We love the teachers and a boundary change would just add further unnecessary disruption to his life.”

Board chair Juanita Miller left the hearing a little more than halfway through. She told parents she had to attend her neighborhood homeowners association meeting.

Another public hearing is set for next week. The board is scheduled to vote on the measure in November.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up