An earlier blog entry asked where the kids would attend school if a family moved into one of the new developments in our area. Let’s take a look. On the EYA web site, I found a townhouse in the Hyattsville Arts District which has completed construction and is available to move in today. OK, I can’t afford this townhouse, but if I did purchase it my children would attend an elementary school which is at 117% capacity, a middle school at %132 and a high school at 122%.
Hmmmm…I decided to try looking for another location to buy or rent. But it turns out there are other overcrowded elementary schools in our area. If I decide to buy a condo at the University Town Center, my children would attend a more crowded elementary school.
The truth is, in the Route 1 corridor, there are more children than seats in elementary, middle and high schools. New development will likely increase the number of children attending.
Are all of the new housing units going to be occupied by young professionals with no children or empty nesters nearing retirement age? I hardly think so. I think the new residents will be very much like people who already live in our communities. They will have chosen to live here for the same reasons we did: good schools, friendly diverse neighborhoods, a short commute to DC and proximity to the University of Maryland. Some of them, quite possibly many, will have children and these children will need to attend school.
Planning for population growth is complicated. It’s hard to determine how many additional children will live in the 138 townhouses being built at the Arts District or the 310 condos at University Town Center. But certainly as the number of approved housing units grows, we need to ensure that future students will not attend school in temporary classroom buildings set up to handle the overcrowding.
A retired teacher recently said to me that temporary buildings should have a ‘use by’ date. I have to agree. Temporaries already can be found at nearly every school in our communities. Yet, no school in our area is slated for additions or new construction in the next 5 years.
The county school officials need a plan to handle the growth in our area. From looking at the 2008-2013 Capital Improvements Plan it would seem their plan for additional middle school construction (project F-1), a high school (F-8 or F-9) or Hyattsville area elementary school (F-11) are in the future beyond 2013.
What can we do as concerned citizens who value and support our public schools? We can write to our county council, school board representative and Region 5 PGCPS executives. Encourage officials to evaluate the impact of the Landy project and other development on our community schools. Ask the school district to re-evaluate the priority of these future projects as listed in the 2008-2013 Capital Improvements Plan. –Michelle H.