Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is working on plans to open two new international schools with the hopes of promoting student achievement.
One of schools is planned to be constructed in Langley Park and the site of the second school is yet to be determined, according to schools officials.
School officials hope the schools will positively impact and meet the needs of students who are learning English. PGCPS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Kevin Maxwell said he is excited to partner with Casa de Maryland in bringing international schools to the county.
"I believe this specialized program will provide a unique opportunity for students who are learning English to do so in an environment that is supportive and targeted to meet their needs," Maxwell said.
Sito Narcisse, Ed.D , who works for PGCPS as the associate superintendent for high school performance said the school system has applied for a grant with the Carnegie Foundation to provide funding for the project.
“We’re looking for places in Langley Park and then the other school will be somewhere centrally in the district,” said Narcisse. “We have not decided on the address. These are conversations we’re having now.”
Narcisse said he hopes the impact of the new schools be long lasting.
“The best component is a partnership with community-based organizations. We are engaging the community simultaneously,” said Narcisse. “We talk a lot about partnering with stakeholders—the parents, the community, government. It’s a holistic approach to how we approach learning.”
CASA de Maryland is also involved with the project.
“Having a school in Langley Park and another school targeted to newcomer students, we hope that achievement scores will go up, rates of high school completion will go up and especially rates of college (acceptance and attendance) will go up…The kids at other international schools performed 20 percent better on average. So we’re excited about the possibility of them performing better, of having access to other opportunities and just having a neat experience that will be much more targeted to their needs.”
All the schools will be public schools and part of the county’s goal of providing more options for families and for parents. The names of the schools have not yet been finalized.
“We’re looking at different model schools in other parts of the country and working with the county to put together that design team,” said Collazo. “Right now it’s very much in the planning stages.”
According to Collazo, a design team made up of representatives from PGCPS, CASA de Maryland and other non-profits in the community is being formed. The team will be led by the principal of the school who has yet to be named.
Collazo describes the demographic of the new school as “totally international” but says the school in Langley Park will probably have a high percentage of Latino students because of the demographics of the area.
“One thing that’s got us really excited about this project is that we’ll have an opportunity to work with the schools and provide support services for parents will partner with the school to support the school and family engagement and really work with the families to encourage their children to go on to college or to the career of their choosing,” she said.