Tulip Grove Elementary is getting a $22.9 million makeover, but the temporary space options presented have parents concerned their children will be bused about 20 miles to school each day.
“If we were anywhere outside of Bowie [the Tulip Grove] community would erode,” said Karen Luttrell, Tulip Grove PTA secretary and mother of two students that attend Tulip Grove.
The renovation will tear down portions of the school and build up new sections that would include a full gym and central air conditioning, said Sarah Woodhead, PGCPS Department of Capital Programs director. Overall renovations will take between 12 and 18 months starting in July with the 439 students returning to the school in fall 2016.
“It is a major renovation that has some selective demolition and some additional space,” Woodhead said. “The school will basically be like a new school when it is done.”
Temporary housing options include Berkshire Elementary in Forestville or Middleton Valley Elementary in Temple Hills, said Dawn Weaver, Tulip Grove PTA president.
County public school officials also brought up sending the students to Bowie’s Yorktown Elementary or the old Meadowbrook School.
Parents said they don’t want the students sent to Berkshire Elementary or Middleton Valley Elementary, which are about 19 miles and 21 miles, respectively, from Tulip Grove.
“They are children,” Weaver said. “They want to be where their friends are going to be. The likelihood that their friends are in Temple Hills and Forestville is very slim.”
This leaves Meadowbrook, a site about two miles from Tulip Grove, which has become the favored option by Tulip Grove parents, Weaver said.
Woodhead said the public school system is working with the parents to make the best selection, but none of the proposed options have been taken off the table. Meadowbrook would require PGCPS getting the building back from the county, likely moving organizations out of the office space and renovating the kitchen, Woodhead said.
Parents are expecting an answer from public school officials in early March, but no specific date has been given.
“They all have pros and cons and I think we have done a good job of documenting the concerns of the school system and the parents and community,” Woodhead said.
Weaver said if the school ends up using the Forestville or Temple Hills swing space, parents would likely homeschool their children or send them to private school.
“Everyone knows this should have already been decided,” Weaver said. “Parents want to know where their children are going.”