The Prince George’s County (Maryland) school board has approved the second phase of a school construction project funded through a mix of public-private funds.
The Washington Post reports that the second phase of the "Blueprint Schools" project includes eight new buildings: Fairwood Area Elementary School in Bowie, Margaret Brent Elementary School in New Carrollton, Springhill Lake Elementary School in Greenbelt, Templeton Elementary School in Riverdale Park, James Duckworth Elementary School in Beltsville, Hyattsville Elementary School, Robert Frost Area PK-8 Academy in New Carrollton, and Brandywine Area PK-8 Academy.
The first two schools are scheduled to be opened as soon as 2026.
The project — called the “public-private partnership” or “P3” — is designed to accelerate construction timelines and reduce costs in part by eliminating typical bureaucratic obstacles. The school district normally undergoes a five-year projected capital improvement plan, seeks approval in segments and then waits until funding is available. But through the partnership, a developer handles the design and finances the construction.
Once the schools open, the district begins paying back the developers, which were Fengate Asset Management and Gilbane Development Company during the first phase. The developers maintain the schools and are paid over a 30-year period.
The second phase requires that a minimum of 40 percent of the labor is locally hired.
Six schools opened in less than three years during the first phase.
The school system — Maryland’s second-largest, with about 131,000 students — has the second-oldest buildings in the state, officials say. County council and board of education members pursued the public-private partnership amid growing complaints from parents about aging buildings, crowded classrooms and learning environments that weren’t fully accessible to students with disabilities.