A new Hyattsville elementary school set to open next fall could help neighboring schools at or near capacity, but some parents and school officials worry that transferring students could affect the already-established chemistry between students and school staff.
Six schools in the surrounding area were over capacity when school officials approved the new school in February 2009, said Yale Stenzler, interim director for capital programs for the Prince George’s County Public Schools system.
University Park Elementary in Hyattsville was one of the six schools that was used as a justification for the new school, Stenzler said.
Nancy Schickner, principal at University Park, said if students from her school end up being transferred, it would help to bring class sizes down and make the cafeteria less crowded during lunch time. Currently, there are 630 students ranging from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade at the school, where the capacity is around 560, she said.
The 92,000-square-foot school will be located on Editors Park Drive and be home to 792 students from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade, Stenzler said, adding that construction should take up until the time the school year starts. The school board will decide on a name for the school at a later date, he said.
“We are very excited,” Stenzler said. “It is going to be a brand new school that is going to serve the students, parents and the community with up-to-date modern facilities.”
The two-story school will have classrooms, an art room, a music room, a cafeteria, a gymnasium and a media center. Classrooms and the media center will contain several computers with Internet access, to help students become more technologically advanced, Stenzler said.
Funding for the $27.1 million project was provided by $10.4 million from state funds and $16.7 million from county funds, Stenzler said. Another $4 million was spent by the county on furniture, architect fees and permitting fees.
Lidia Baker, whose daughter, Isabella, is in the fifth grade at University Park, said if students are transferred to the new school, she could see the benefits of less students for University Park and thought other parents might be interested in sending their child to a new school. But Baker said she would prefer her daughter to stay at University Park because she likes the teachers there and her daughter has built a network of friends.
“At this point, I would not be supportive of that, because she has been here up to fifth grade,” she said. “My expectation is to stay in this local school because I live in this neighborhood.”
Schickner said she would miss students if they were transferred to a new school and thought parents might resist any effort to move students.
“This community really sticks together whenever that has come up and in mass say we do not want to redistrict,” Schickner said.
Board member Amber Waller (Dist. 3), whose district includes Hyattsville, said school boundary hearings should start late November or early December, and parents will know early next year how the lines have changed.
School board officials will have to assess what the student population looks like today to make a decision on where students will come from, said school system spokesman Briant Coleman.