Proposed school boundary change in Oxon Hill draws criticism -- Gazette.Net


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The Prince George’s County School System is embroiled in a boundary dispute with parents whose children would attend Potomac High School in Oxon Hill next academic year rather than the new, higher-performing yet overcrowded Oxon Hill High School.

During the school board’s Jan. 30 meeting on boundaries, Interim Superintendent Alvin Crawley proposed reassignment of students who live north of the Capital Beltway, in the neighborhoods of Forest Heights and Glassmanor, to attend Potomac rather than Oxon Hill.

Only Oxon Hill High School students in the identified area who would be attending ninth or 10th grade next school year and in the future would be shifted to Potomac. The proposed phased-in changeover would not affect students entering 11th or 12th grade at Oxon Hill High School for the 2013-14 school year, nor would it affect students of any grade enrolled in Oxon Hill’s Science and Technology program, a specialty program for students across the county.

Oxon Hill currently has a state-rated capacity of 1,200 students, but an enrollment of 1,626. Potomac, whose capacity is 2,104, has an enrollment of only 900, according to the county school system. When the transition is complete, enrollment is expected to decrease at Oxon Hill and increase at Potomac by approximately 450 students, Crawley said.

Leslie Jones, parent of a rising 12th-grader and a rising 10th-grader at Oxon Hill High School, told the board that under the proposal, her teens would attend two different schools.

“Economically, I cannot afford to have two high school students in two different schools,” Jones said. “I moved to the area so that my children could go to Oxon Hill High School. I am an alumna of Oxon Hill, and it saddens me that my son, who is a ninth-grader taking 11th-grade courses, cannot go there next year.”

Karen McFadden, parent of a junior at Oxon Hill, said she is glad her daughter would be able to remain at Oxon Hill High School, but was disappointed that her son, currently in the seventh grade, would not, and said she would have to explore other options for high school for her son.

“Living in Forest Heights, I love my community, but I feel like we are always being penalized for where we live, just because we are on the inside of the Beltway,” McFadden said, adding, “I have not heard great things about Potomac, so I am very concerned.”

A comparison of the most recent data in the Maryland School Report Card, an annual compilation of school data released by the Maryland Department of Education, shows a 28 percent dropout rate in the Class of 2012 cohort for Potomac compared to 21 percent for Oxon Hill. Oxon Hill 12th-graders outperformed Potomac’s by a significant margin on the most recent High School Assessments in all four subjects: English (Oxon Hill, 88.1 percent pass rate; Potomac, 69.8 percent pass rate), algebra/data analysis (Oxon Hill, 80.7 percent pass; Potomac, 58.2 percent pass), government (Oxon Hill, 84.6 percent pass; Potomac, 65.7 percent pass) and biology (Oxon Hill, 79.7 percent pass; Potomac, 54.4 percent pass).

Crawley said that as part of the transition plan, “there will be opportunities for parents and students to receive information as well as have on-site visits” at Potomac, the details of which would be presented at a yet to be determined board meeting. The board is scheduled to vote on Crawley’s recommendation at its Feb. 21 meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net