The more than 300 students at EXCEL Academy Public Charter School in Riverdale will be moving this fall into larger digs at the shuttered Matthew Henson Elementary School in Landover.

The Prince George's County school board voted unanimously Thursday to approve a three-year lease agreement with the charter school, which is currently leasing a facility from the Archdiocese of Washington that is too small to adequately house the kindergarten through eighth-grade school, said Principal Diane Kanu.

"Our current facility does not allow us to provide the quality our students and teachers deserve and our parents expect," she said. "[Moving to Matthew Henson Elementary] really means we can truly deliver the mission and the vision, a quality program to our children."

In presenting the agreement for the board's approval, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. called it a win-win situation, generating about $231,400 in revenue for the school system in the first year of the lease and almost $289,300 in each of the second and third years.

Public charter schools in Maryland receive a per-pupil allotment from the local school system, but the school itself must pay for its facility.

"It's really important to have adequate facilities that are not cost-prohibitive," Hite said of the building EXCEL Academy is now leasing for about $34,000 per month. "We have a vacant facility. We could use that building to support their needs."

Students arrive at EXCEL Academy, which will move about six miles southeast of its current location, through transportation provided by their parents.

Leasing the nearly 58,000-square-foot Matthew Henson Elementary, which closed with seven other county schools in 2009 as part of an effort to balance enrollment numbers, will save EXCEL Academy more than $100,000 per year, said Denise E. Johnson, chairwoman of the charter school's board.

The school's current building lacks a playground, auditorium, multipurpose room, restrooms for adults and adequate space for specialists, said Kanu, adding that a better facility also will improve staff morale.

abrownback@gazette.net