Jason Washington, the newly hired public-private partnerships director for Prince George’s County public schools, presents an update on school construction projects during a virtual meeting Aug. 21. (Screen grab: PGCPS)

The Prince George’s County School Board recently held a virtual meeting to review a proposed construction project that could cost taxpayers nearly $960 million.
The money, based on an annual cap of $32 million for 30 years, would be used to construct six new schools that include Adelphia Area, Drew Freeman, Hyattsville, Kenmoor and Walker Mill middle schools and Southern Area K-8 school.
Jason Washington, Prince George’s County Public Schools’ new public-private partnerships director, said four developers expressed interest in submitting proposals by Sept. 14 that includes at least 30% of the contract value which must be procured through minority and county-based businesses.
“Not participation, but pure dollars. It is an unwaivable requirement,” Washington said.
According to the proposed schedule, the first schools would be occupied by July 15, 2023 and the last schools exactly a year later. Kenmoor and Walker Mill middle schools are slated for occupancy by Dec. 30, 2023.
PGCPS became the first district in the nation to use a P3 model for school construction, where officials would select a private company to handle construction and maintenance, as well as to help decrease an estimated $8.5 billion backlog in projects.
Once construction is completed and students, teachers and staff are in the schools, PGCPS would regain control of the buildings and payments to the contractor will begin.
Meanwhile, the county will receive state funding toward the project thanks to lawmakers approving the $2.2 billion “Built to Learn Act of 2020” construction bill.
Despite overcrowding issues, a state agency ranked Prince George’s as one of the top three jurisdictions in Maryland with some of the oldest school buildings.
A proposed part of a contract discussed nearly a week ago, also dealt with certain protections for workers.
While the county has no authority to dictate benefits provided by subcontractors, Washington said workers will receive prevailing wages.
Board Vice Chair Edward Burroughs III said regulations should have “teeth in it” to ensure those hired receive decent wages, health care and other benefits.
“It’s really important to hire folks who live in the county and we ensure that we are not only paying them a prevailing wage, but we’re also ensuring those companies treat them appropriately,” Burroughs said.
“We’re using this as an opportunity to pull people out of poverty and really give them good jobs and benefits.”
The board is scheduled to approve a construction company on Oct. 20.

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Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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  1. Canada used this contract model for years, but stopped in many places because it was deemed less beneficial than traditional delivery. They learned that a key driver of success is competition, but Prince George’s intents to SOLE SOURCE the billion dollar agreement under a “Exclusive Negotiation Agreement”. This is not transparent and probably not even legal. The promise of pennies of this corruption trickling down to the local community is insulting. The billion dollars is going to the Wall Street investors, not the community, and rest assured that these payments will continue to increase every year. A BILLION DOLLARS tin exchange for 5 or six middle schools will make this the MOST EXPENSIVE schools project in history and at a time where many of us are out of work is absurd. Where are the savings? To most of the community, the lack of transparency in this process should be criminal. Why not publish all the details instead of using the press to spin this corruption as somehow beneficial.

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