Thomas G. Pullen Creative and Performing Arts School gets a top grade for its curriculum, but a failing grade for the appearance of part of its property, according to some parents.
The school, at 700 Brightseat Road in Landover, is converting a front fenced-off area into a parking lot. Parents described the vacant lot as an “eyesore” and said that the construction — which began in 2011 — needs to be completed soon to improve traffic at the school.
Clemont Jacobs of Bowie said the lot, owned by Prince George’s County Schools, is unkept, with grass growing out of control. It has geese and rodents, he said.
“If it doesn’t look good, I’m not going to feel good about being in there,” Jacobs said.
His daughter, a third-grader at the school, has noticed the problem, he said.
Max Pugh, a school system spokesman, said he expects the parking lot to be completed by the end of November. Pugh said the project was delayed because of an issue with a past contractor.
Principal Pamela Lucas said that about 10 additional buses are transporting students this school year, and have clogged carpool lanes.
ShaVon McConnell, a Prince George’s County Schools spokeswoman, said bus routes were added throughout the district in order to increase transportation efficiency.
Parents said some cars have been backed into Brightseat Road as a result of the added school buses, but the situation has improved since the first day of school, which was Aug. 19. Lucas said a completed parking lot will clear traffic congestion by freeing space for cars and buses.
“With the way it looks, parents are frustrated. It’ll get better,” Lucas said.
Betty Sawyer, the parent of an 8-year-old student at the school, said she was impressed by the school’s teachers and staff members, but the vacant parking lot made the school appear unattractive to an outsider. If she was not familiar with the school’s academic reputation, she said, she would not send her daughter there.
“First appearances are everything,” Sawyer said.
On the Maryland State Assessment — a test given to students in grades 3 through 8 — 92 percent of the Pullen students scored proficient or advanced in reading and 84.7 scored proficient or advanced in math.
Michael Dunnigan of Landover, a parent of a Thomas Pullen second-grader, said the lot and transportation issues were a minor inconvenience.
“Looks can be deceiving. It’s a great school,” Dunnigan said.
Melanie Johnson, whose daughter recently enrolled in kindergarten at the school, said aesthetics were secondary to the education.
“That doesn’t really interest me,” Johnson said of the vacant lot. “What I’m concerned about is what’s happening behind those doors.”