Prince George’s County school improvements remained a top concern at the first of a series of meetings in advance of next year’s General Assembly session held to get residents’ input on legislative priorities
“I know there is a lot on your plate, but I feel education should be the No. 1 priority,” Sharon Sims of Oxon Hill told county and state officials at a forum Nov. 19 in Fort Washington that drew about 80 residents.
While Sims’ children are now adults, she said she was concerned for her four grandchildren who range in age from 5 to 16 years old. Increased funding for school could help decrease class sizes, something that concerned her as some of her grandchildren were in classes with 30 or more students to a teacher, she said.
“I was given a fantastic foundation [in school], and every child deserves the same,” Sims said.
County Executive Rushern Baker III (D) hosted the meeting that also featured multiple state and local representatives, including County Councilman Obie Patterson of (D-Dist. 8) of Fort Washington, state Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Dist. 23) of Bowie and state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly.
Improving the quality of county education was a priority already and something that would continue to be worked on, Baker said.
”I’ve seen the best and the worst of the school system,” he said. “Are we making changes at the speed that I want? No, but that’s something we’re going to work on.”
Longstanding capital projects such as improving the flow of traffic on state Route 210, the busy thoroughfare near Fort Washington that multiple attendees complained had delayed their attendance at the Nov. 19 meeting, was also discussed.
With a new casino proposed at National Harbor, improving Route 210 — a thoroughfare that helps move traffic to I-495, which leads to National Harbor — would move even higher on the county’s priority list in the upcoming session, Baker said.
“We don’t have the money as a county to do it,” he said. “[Route] 210 will be at the top of our priorities list.”
However, Brian Woolfolk of Fort Washington complained that leaders lack vision in making substantive plans for dealing with the county’s issues.
“What I would like to see from you is solid plans, not just, ‘We’re on a priority list,’” he said. “I get to the point of being fed up.”
The Prince George’s County government had another meeting scheduled Nov. 27 at Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale, and the county’s house delegation plans to host a session Dec 1 at Prince George’s Community College in Largo.
Officials said issues brought up at the meeting will be used to help the county government and elected leaders in Annapolis figure out priorities for the next session, which starts Jan. 9.
“This is your time, this is prime time to put thing on their plate,” Baker said.