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LANHAM — Turning Point Academy Public Charter School held a meeting with their Governing Board of Directors on Monday, Feb. 25 where one of the topics discussed was changing the location of the school, marking the ongoing issues the institution has had.
Prince George’s County’s first charter school opened in 2006 but continues not to have their own school building and in the past has dealt with back and forth debate with the Board of Education last year about whether to renew their charter altogether.
Currently, the K-8 charter school shares a building with the Trinity Assembly of God Church on Good Luck Road in Lanham and Board of Education Vice Chair Edward Burroughs said that “ultimately the current facility is unacceptable and they need to move.”
“Those staff and students in the school deserve an adequate facility,” he said.
According to Burroughs, 70 percent of the students must learn in classrooms that are outside in trailers. Those that can remain inside the church are forced to sit in very confined classrooms, leaving the need for a significant facility change.
The school last had their charter renewed by the Board of Education in July. During the 2017-2018 school year, they operated without a charter and were in danger of closing until their charter was renewed with conditions that had to be up to spec.
These conditions included making changes to the school’s current board, providing updates on grading progress and ways to fix the conditions of the school. Additionally, the board requested more transparency within the school’s leadership team and asked that parents, staff, and community provide updates on the school’s conditions at their one-year evaluation.
“A lot of those conditions are still in progress,” Burroughs said. “They have one year to get it together. What I’m most concerned about is that facility. We must have facilities that are safe.”
While the conditions are still ongoing, when the agreement was made back in July it determined that of the requirements were not completed in time, the school system would be allowed to look for a new school operator to take over for the Turning Point Foundation.
Despite the struggles between Turning Point Academy and the school system in the past, some parents like Adeole Bankole are satisfied with the position that Turning Point is in right now.
Bankole, a Lanham resident whose child is in kindergarten at the school, said the community is very good, and the school communicates well with parents.
“They are good at communication. The school calls whenever there are problems. They keep us up to date, and they ask parents for their input,” she said.
With the progress made up to this point with avoiding closure and being able to operate with a charter this year, work must still be done in cooperation with the school system that, according to Burroughs. That includes work having to do with the school’s leadership and most importantly a better facility.
We need to do some more work around their governance structure,” Burroughs said. “But the main thing is to get those students to a safe facility; I’m not confident that building is safe.”
The Turning Point Academy Governing Board of Directors and administration did not respond to requests for comment.