By SOPHIE GORMAN ORIANI — At the Sept 4. Educational Facilities Task Force (EFTF) meeting, Pamela Boozer-Strother, a member of the Board of Education for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), said that “we should just be weeks” away from the finalization of the PGCPS public-private partnership, or P3, funding package.
P3 funding, in which private developers partner with school systems, such as PGCPS, to increase school funding, may pave the way for funding a new building for Hyattsville Middle School (HMS). This is a pilot program for PGCPS, and the process has been surrounded by shifting timelines and confusion.
“Over [the course of] this process, information has moved very quickly. So what might have been our understanding a few weeks ago may not be the reality of tonight,” said Dan Broder, chair of the EFTF, at the Sept. 4 meeting.
“Right now, there’s a lot of effort to make sure Hyattsville Middle’s in the first round of funding for P3,” said Boozer-Strother, who stressed that the P3 package hasn’t been finalized yet: “[When] that package is fully bid on and public … that’s when it exists …. As a board member, I’m not ready to say [HMS is] in that package, because we don’t know yet.”
“We should know [what is contained in the P3 package] … by this meeting next Thursday night, or the week after,” said Boozer-Strother, referring to the PGCPS Capital Improvement Program (CIP) public hearing, which is Sept 12 at 6 p.m. Broder encouraged the public to attend this meeting.
Boozer-Strother stated that PGCPS was waiting for preliminary “site test analysis data” to see if Magruder Park, one of the two parcels of land large enough to support a middle school, was even a viable option for building a new middle school. “That [data] I had hoped we’d see this week,” Boozer-Strother said. According to Jim Chandler, director of community & economic development for the City of Hyattsville, PGCPS has also hired an architect to perform a feasibility study in September.
One question that still remains is whether a site must be selected before the P3 funding package is finalized. “I’m piecing this together, too,” said Boozer-Strother. “I hear that we’re going to publicly announce the P3 package in a couple weeks….We don’t have a site test fit analysis for the Hyattsville Middle project, which means there’s a default, right? The default is the site that exists.”
Broder sought clarification on what opportunities the Hyattsville community will have to give input on site selection, but that too seems to be unknown. “We are trying to get this funded on a shorter time, on the package timeline,” answered Boozer-Strother. “So I cannot say to you that will go exactly the same [as the standard public comment procedure].”
“There is no other community having this difficult issue with no land and two schools [HMS and Hyattsville Elementary School] that need to be rebuilt,” said Boozer-Strother.
Initially, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was anticipated in late July or early August. However, a Sept. 9 email from De’Nerika Johnson, the construction procurement supervisor for PGCPS, stated that the RFP will instead be released in October. Moreover, Johnson wrote that the RFP “will not be posted on the website or available for public review,” but will only be distributed to pre-qualified development firms.