Teachers, parents fear consolidating schools will cause major safety issues

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FORESTVILLE, Md. -- Forestville High School is shutting down after serving the community for decades. Most students will report to Suitland High School in the fall. Those students attending from outside the boundary area will return to their neighborhood schools.

Students, parents, and even some teachers told DCW50, they were upset about the decision to consolidate the schools.

Many voiced concerns about safety and education moving forward.

"It was a shock, it was short notice, letters were just received in the mail," said Millicent Smith, whose son attends Forestville High.

In March, Prince George’s County Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell sent a letter to parents, informing them of the closure.

"What I found strange was that the children didn’t even know, and the kids took it pretty hard,” Smith said.

Teachers said students and parents were not the only ones caught off guard by the decision to close Forestville High.

"We have yet to receive any sort of formal notice to say that they were going to close it, we found out through a letter that was given to the parents,” explained former student and current teacher at Forestville High School, Vincent McDuffie.

Parents and teachers expressed safety concerns.

"The history and the relationships between our neighborhood and the neighborhoods in Suitland, they are not Kumbaya," McDuffie said, “I think it makes it worse that our neighborhood has to infuse into their neighborhood. It is not like we are both losing schools and there is a middle ground. We are now coming over into their side and now we have to adapt and adjust.”

Prince George’s County Public Schools says closing Forestville High is part of a bigger plan that includes more closures.  According to the plan, by 2018 a total of eight schools will have consolidated.

By moving Forestville students to Suitland, the high school will receive more funds from the state.

"I was fickle about it at first but, I’m really tired of hearing about the money because I’m not seeing where money is an issue,” expressed Smith.

Parents and teachers said they just hope the move turns out to be the right one.

“Everything is already in motion but we’ve just got to stay strong for our children,” Smith said.

“Its hard to know that you are going to displace these kids and this community and they are going to loose a standing landmark,” McDuffie added.

As for the future of the building, Schools officials said plans for the Forestville High School building have not been finalized.

Prince George’s Public Schools Statement on Forestville High School and Skyline Elementary School consolidation:

“After receiving numerous emails, phone calls and public testimony, the decision was made to consolidate Forestville  High and Skyline Elementary Schools beginning with the 2016-2017 school year to resolve the under utilization of the facilities. This decision came after careful consideration, weighing all points of view and in the interests of the school district at large. The district understands this change in school location may be disheartening for students, staff and the community. PGCPS will continue to do everything possible to make this transition a smooth one for all involved to ensure an academically rewarding experience for students.”