Lack of communication, ‘innovation overload’ among Prince George’s schools’ challenges -- Gazette.Net


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Improving communication with parents, utilization of the latest information technologies, and making specialty programs and options available to a wider range of students were among the 46 recommendations made in a report released to Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell said March 13 that his executive team will review the recommendations, some of which have already begun to be implemented, such as the creation of additional specialty schools and the reintroduction of parent liaisons, school employees who help parents navigate the school system.

“What we’ll do as an executive team is to try and categorize them into in-progress, short-term ... and long term. Once we do that, we’ll assemble an action team to work on each issue,” Maxwell said.

The recommendations should make it easier for parents and the public to get information from the school system and to ensure students graduate college- and career-ready, said Lillian Lowery, Maryland state superintendent of schools and co-chairwoman of the 30-member transition team that provided the report.

The team was created in October, two months after Maxwell began his tenure as CEO, to do an assessment of the school system. The team is comprised of state and local education officials and union representatives.

The transition team’s 25-page report can be viewed online at www.pgcps.org.

A number of challenges are highlighted in the report, including a paper-driven bureaucracy, communications difficulties, duplication of work and “innovation overload,” the introduction of a large number of initiatives without the resources to support them, said Betty Molina Morgan, a retired Washington County superintendent who served as the principal writer and compiler of the report.

The transition team made 46 recommendations, including the development of a strategic communications plan, expansion of specialty programs, the development of centralized processes and protocols, new management structures to support work going on in schools and a better use of communications tools and technologies to enhance collaboration and communication with stakeholders.

“There is no doubt that Dr. Maxwell faces multifaceted and interconnected challenges, and to address them will require a great deal of focused effort and strategic use of resources,” Lowery said.

The report said more effort needs to be directed toward the college and career readiness of Hispanic students, who are the fastest growing population group in the county but have the highest dropout rates.

The enrollment of Hispanic students grew by 3,267 students between 2011 and 2013, even while overall enrollment dropped by 2,934, according to data from the Maryland State Department of Education. The dropout rate for Hispanic students was 27.9 percent, the highest of any major category, according to MSDE.

“Their success in part will be the school system’s success,” Morgan said.

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net