Parents who send their kids to Pointer Ridge Elementary in Bowie, Maryland, are breathing a little easier after the head of Prince George’s County Public Schools recommended delaying a decision to consolidate two schools at the end of the year. However, they also know their fight isn’t over.
Schools CEO Monica Goldson issued a statement recommending that the consolidation of Pointer Ridge and Concord elementary schools in Capitol Heights be delayed until the end of the 2023-24 school year.
The initial recommendation to close the school at the end of this year sparked an outcry at the south Bowie school, where parents rallied once already. They’re holding another rally Thursday afternoon at the PGCPS headquarters in Upper Marlboro.
“Immediately, I did feel a sense of, I felt excitement,” said Darius Hyman, the PTA president at Pointer Ridge. “I felt glad, but I kept reading and I realized this was just to be delayed. I understand the fight isn’t over yet; but I believe it gives us time to reevaluate. They’re taking more time to reevaluate, and I appreciate them taking the time.”
WTOP spoke to several parents in recent days who expressed frustration with the decision to close a school that performs as highly as it does. Students at Pointer Ridge would have been split up between three other schools, and parents were concerned their new schools would be both farther away and that their child’s education would suffer in schools that, in some cases, are already overcrowded.
There was also frustration that after two years of schooling affected by the pandemic, closing the school would bring even more turmoil to those students.
Pointer Ridge was chosen for consolidation because of plummeting enrollment. An increase this school year brought the school to more than 50% capacity.
However, parents, as well as Bowie Mayor Tim Adams, pointed out that over 2,000 new homes are being constructed within the school’s current boundary map — many of which are in neighborhoods targeting younger families who figure to send their kids to Pointer Ridge. Some of those homes are already occupied and sending kids to Pointer Ridge. More new residents will be moving into those homes in the first half of 2023.
“We still have work to do,” Hyman said. “It is an opportunity to see what this growth looks like a little further down the road.”
Other recommendations coming from Goldson include the elimination of boundary changes at 29 schools around the county, in which fewer than 20 students would have been affected. Goldson also wants the school board to allow kids who would be in fifth and eighth grades next year to remain at the schools they’ve attended, as long as parents provide their own transportation.
But while Goldson issued her recommendations on Wednesday, the school board has the final say of the matter. The board is scheduled to take up the matter Nov. 10.