County budget includes major renovations to Hyattsville schools; local students to be shuffled to new middle, high schools as early as 2019

April 1, 2016

The March 10 Prince George's County budget listening session. Photo courtesy Rebecca Bennett.

BY REBECCA BENNETT — Updated with a link to provide feedback about new middle school locations.  At a March 10 Prince George’s County budget listening session, Councilmember Deni Taveras (District 2) said millions were in the capital improvement program for major renovations to two local schools. The county also plans to build three new public schools that will pull students from two schools in the City of Hyattsville.

Click here for the county budget public hearing schedule.

Click here for the FY 2017 budget, including the budget in brief.

According to the proposed FY 2017 county budget, $32.6 million is being marked for a FY 2018 to 2021 renovation of Hyattsville Elementary School (HES). According to a presentation by the county councilmember, in FY 2015, the school underwent floor construction, and in FY 2016, it was scheduled to receive fan coil units and grease traps.  In FY 2017, HES is scheduled for fire alarm replacement, the presentation said.

An $84.6 million renovation is proposed for Hyattsville Middle School (HMS) in FY 2021 to 2024. The county councilmember’s presentation said that in FY 2015, renovations included grease traps, a stage and locker rooms.  In FY 2017, budgeted renovations include fire alarms, a dance floor, lockers, structural foundation, and stage lighting.

Northwestern High School (NWS) isn’t being targeted for a major renovation at this time.  In FY 2015, it underwent roof replacement, in FY 2016, grease traps were budged to be replaced, and in FY 2017, Taveras said the school is budgeted for some exterior structural repair and security upgrades.

Two new middle schools and a high school to be located outside of the City of Hyattsville would draw students away from Nicholas Orem Middle School (NOMS) and NHS. The new middle schools will serve approximately 1,200 students each, which is expected to help with overcrowding at schools, including NOMS. PGCPS held public hearings in March about the plan. Completion is planned for 2019 to 2021, Taveras said.

PGCPS said that Waldon Studio Architects completed a site feasibility analysis of eight sites for consideration as new middle schools.  The Board of Education was expected to approval a final recommendation on March 22, but that decision was postponed to allow for more public input.  Those wishing to find out more about the site feasibility report or to provide feedback can click here.

Taveras said the county is also closing 28 schools in the southern part of the county, which she said was a contentious issue.

Hyattsville City Councilmember Edouard Haba (Ward 4) said that NOMS is falling apart.  Taveras said the school is not in the budget right now and does not have its own page in the capital improvement plan.

“All I’ve heard about is Hyattsville Middle and Hyattsville Elementary for the last two or three years,” Taveras said.

Board of Education Member Dinora Hernandez (District 3) said NOMS is on the list of renovations, but it’s not on the priority list. She also said some of the NOMS students will be going to a new school.

According to Taveras, the county executive approved $93 million of Prince George’s County School (PGCPS) CEO Kevin Maxwell’s proposed $182 million budget increase over last year.  The total public school operating budget for FY 2017 is estimated at more than $1.9 billion and the six-year capital investment program is proposed at approximately $2.7 billion.

Another milestone for Hyattsville in the county FY 2017 budget is the new $32.7 million Hyattsville Branch Library.

Overall for Prince George’s County, the FY 2017 projected revenues and expenditures are listed as balanced at more than $3.1 billion.  Taveras said County Executive Rushern Baker rectified a $65 million budget deficit. The county’s own source revenue is projected at approximately $1.8 billion, which is from real property ($716 million), income tax ($585 million), transfer tax ($106 million), personal property ($71 million), and energy tax ($69 million), according to the county’s budget brief.

Public schools and libraries are projected to cost more than $2 billion. County agencies, such as fire, police, human services, etc., are projected to cost $996 million, according to the March 10 presentation.

Total state aid to the county is estimated at $1.343 billion as of March 10, which is a 6.6 percent increase over last year.  Of that, more than $1.2 billion will go to public schools.

“I think this year was not as contentious as last year,” Taveras said.  “There’s no tax increases, no drama.”

County Executive Rushern Baker submitted his version of the budget on March 10 and it is being reviewed by the Prince George’s County Council. Public hearings will be held on May 5 and 10. The Maryland State Legislature adopts its final budget, including school funding levels, in April.

The final Prince George’s County FY 2017 budget is scheduled to be adopted on May 26.