Supporters rally outside the Sasscer Administration Building in Upper Marlboro on Feb. 24 to keep Community Based Classroom, an alternative school, at its current location. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

A proposal to combine the alternative schools in Prince George’s County received approval the school board that now heads to County Council as part of the ongoing budget process for fiscal year 2023.

The plan proposes to combine three of the five alternative schools to provide additional resources such as school psychologists, counselors and smaller class sizes. These schools serve students who struggled at traditional schools.

Dr. Monica Goldson, CEO, Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Public schools CEO Monica Goldson said Feb. 25 summarized those schools would become programs to offer two alternative schools for grades nine through 12, and another for grades sixth through eighth.

The Maryland Department of Education uses the one to five star-rating through a state report card to assess academic performance. Goldson said a one-star, or low rating, could lead to state intervention.

Changing the schools to a program would relieve them from being subject to the state ratings and keep the remaining services intact.

Goldson said during a school board meeting Feb. 24 that all five schools – Community Based Classroom, Croom High, Tall Oaks High, Annapolis Road Academy and Green Valley – received a one-star rating for academics.

“All the offerings we provided at the Community Based Classroom will be offered at two locations instead of one,” she said.

Major opposition to the plan came from the principal and other supporters to keep Community Based Classroom, known as CBC, in Bladensburg open. According to current enrollment, 68 students are at the school and all the seniors will graduate.

A group of parents and activists called “We The People of P.G. County” released a statement Feb. 25 saying the current CBC program has a more than 90% graduation rate for the last four years.

The group said the state’s report card hasn’t been updated due to COVID-19 pandemic that affected the state two years ago. In addition, the rating’s criteria aren’t applicable “to at-risk students.”

“Three decades of students who against all odds in their life, found an environment at CBC, in which to become empowered and successful adults,” according to the statement. “We are confused by the reasoning behind this dissolution and angered by the lack of transparency and the lies.”

A summary of the proposal would allow students at CBC to either attend Croom High School in Cheltenham, or the combined Tall Oaks High School and Annapolis Road Academy in Bowie. Those programs would serve students in grades ninth through 12th grade.

The CBC students could attend either one of those locations.

Green Valley in Suitland would be redesigned for students in grade sixth through eighth. The students currently there would transfer to Croom.

Transportation services, currently not available for CBC students, would be provided for all students under the proposed plan next school year.

During last week’s school board meeting, supporters of CBC and alternative schools protested outside the county’s education headquarters in Upper Marlboro.

Enough votes weren’t available to pass an amendment to the $2.6 billion fiscal year 2023 budget to pass a budget amendment to keep all five alternative schools in place.

Five board members supported the amendment, but four voted against it and two abstained. Because of two vacancies currently on the board, the board needed only six votes to approve it.

The plan that’s part of the entire school system’s $2.6 billion fiscal year 2023 budget must receive final approval from County Council, which plans to begin the budget process this month.

@WJFjabariwill

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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