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September 23 - September 29, 2021

 Photo courtesy PGCMLS PGCMLS has partnered with The SPACE, a nonprofit in Greenbelt, to establish a new pop-up location to increase public access to technology and literature. Photo courtesy PGCMLS
PGCMLS has partnered with The SPACE, a nonprofit in Greenbelt, to establish a new pop-up location to increase public access to technology and literature.


PGCMLS and The SPACE Collaborate to Connect the Community with Resources

By DONNA SCOTT-MARTIN
PGCMLS

Largo, Md. (Sept. 15, 2021)—The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) has partnered with The SPACE, a nonprofit in Greenbelt, to establish a new pop-up location to increase public access to technology and literature, attract participants with collaborative programming, and provide outreach to the significant population of immigrants, refugees, and Spanish-speakers living in the Greenbelt area. The SPACE, which stands for “Sharing Positive Artistic and Creative Energies,” is a free art and technology space located in the Beltway Plaza Mall and is led by Executive Director Shaymar Higgs, the recipient of the City of Greenbelt’s 2021 Outstanding Citizen Award.

As a part of this partnership, the Library is providing two laptops for public access at The SPACE, establishing a custom library collection of books for children, and supporting the Franklin Park and Springhill Lake communities with programming, early literacy outreach, and language learning and workforce development services. These resources will be made available at The SPACE Monday–Friday 3–7 p.m., and Saturday 12–7 p.m.

Staff at The SPACE will provide basic computer assistance to users, including how to apply for a virtual library card and access resources from the library’s website with remote support from Library staff at the Greenbelt Branch and the Library’s Ask A Librarian service. PGCMLS has provided 100 diverse, multilingual picture books, early readers, fiction and nonfiction books, and graphic novels to be housed and circulated at The SPACE.

Suggested library programs for viewing on the laptops while visiting The SPACE are Café a las cuatro, Kids Achieve Club, English Conversation Club, and Crafternoons. Suggested services to access on Library laptops include Mango Languages, Brainfuse JobNow, Brainfuse HelpNow which offers live tutoring to students, and Spanish-language resources for children such as Lectorum by Make Make. All resources will be completely free with a library card, and The SPACE continues to offer free WiFi as part of a generous ongoing grant from an outside partner. In-person indoor programming will eventually be offered at The SPACE when COVID-19 conditions permit. Future programs will include monthly bilingual storytimes, STEM programs for kids, and wellness programs for families.

“From sewing to jewelry-making and DIY crafts, The SPACE offers open studio and structured workshops for all ages as our way of providing the community with high-quality art supplies, computer technology, and professional art instruction. It operates as an alternate “third space” that is affirming and inclusive in the community,” explained Executive Director Higgs. “The Library is excited about supporting and expanding upon these initiatives,” contributed PGCMLS CEO Roberta Phillips.

 

The SPACE is a Black-owned and run nonprofit in Beltway Plaza Mall in Greenbelt, Maryland designed to provide free art for all. The SPACE stands for “Sharing Positive Artistic and Creative Energies.” The SPACE: Free Art for All has as its mission to provide a pro-social environment that promotes individualized support through arts education and exploration opportunities, career development, and therapeutic services to youth, adults, and families in underserved communities. As a free art and technology space attractive to all ages, The SPACE offers open studio and structured, and professional workshops for personal enrichment and advancement. Resources include superior art supplies, computer technology, books, and more. The SPACE has provided over 8,000 individual art making experiences since opening its doors in 2018.

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) helps customers discover and define opportunities that shape their lives. The Library serves the 915,000+ residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland through 19 branch libraries, a 24/7 online library, and pop-up services throughout the community. PGCMLS is a responsive and trusted community-driven organization. Programs, services, and outreach activities serve booklovers, immigrants and refugees, job seekers, children, young professionals, seniors, and families alike. PGCMLS’ robust online offerings include curated content collections for kids, teens, educators, Spanish speakers, and more. Virtual events and outreach provide access to the Library from the comfort of home or on the go. Special programs include the D.R.E.A.M. Lab, STEM Pals, and 3D printing, which offer teens and lifelong learners with opportunities to learn cutting-edge technology and STEM skills for job readiness or personal enrichment. The Library also provides drive-up WiFi access at all branches and mobile hotspot devices. The Library’s Laurel Branch Library received the 2018 AIA/ALA Library Building Award and was designated the best new public building in Maryland. As a strong community partner, the Library regularly collaborates with local government agencies and non-profit organizations to provide access to essential community services and programs. Partners include the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission, Employ Prince George’s, Prince George’s County Public Schools, and Prince George’s Community College. Learn more at pgcmls.info or by visiting the Largo-Kettering Branch at 9601 Capital Lane, Largo, MD 20774.

 

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Volunteers Build New Kid-Designed Playground at Bladensburg Community Center, Funded by Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation and M-NCPPC
Kids in Prince George’s County will soon have a new playground as part of nationwide effort by KABOOM! to help provide access to safe places to play

By PRESS OFFICERS
M-NCPPC & MSE Foundation

Volunteers from The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County, and the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation are building a new, kid-designed playground from September 28– October 1 at Bladensburg Community Center. Construction will start on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, and be completed on Friday, October 1, 2021.

WHEN: Friday, October 1, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Volunteers construct playground

12–1 p.m.  Site reset for afternoon volunteers

1–3:30 p.m.  Volunteers complete playground construction

3:30–3:45 p.m.  Ribbon-cutting ceremony (times approximate)

WHERE:  Bladensburg Community Center, 4500 57th Avenue, Bladensburg MD 20710

WHO: Lysa Ratliff – CEO, KABOOM!

Elizabeth Hewlett – Chairman of the Prince George’s County Planning Board and The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC)

Members of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, ownership group of the Washington Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics

This project will provide a customized, state-of-the-art new playground for hundreds of kids who attend the community center, as well as an opportunity to engage and bring together community members. Play is essential to the physical, social, and emotional health of every child.  The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for access to parks and playspaces. M-NCPPC remains committed to providing vibrant outdoor spaces for the Prince George’s County community.

In July, kids from the community were joined by Washington Capitals player Garnet Hathaway during Design Day, where the kids shared drawings of their dream playspaces with project organizers. Their ideas were integrated into the new playground design. Community members have been involved throughout the process, all the way from design to the upcoming installation. The community center provides activities for kids and adults of all ages.

The project is a part of Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation’s commitment to making the region a better place for all by supporting game-changing solutions for the community!

 

The Bladensburg Community Center is managed by The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County. Learn more about the Department at www.pgparks.com and stay connected on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

MSE Foundation is committed to making the region a better place for all by supporting game-changing solutions for our community. Learn more at https://www.monumentalfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

KABOOM! is the national non-profit that works to achieve playspace equity. Kids who don’t have access to play miss out on childhood and are denied critical opportunities to build physical, social and emotional health. To learn about our goal to end playspace inequity for good, visit kaboom.org and join the conversation at www.twitter.com/kaboom, www.facebook.com/kaboom and www.instagram.com/kaboom

 

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Prince George’s County Planning Board Schedules Annual Budget Forums
2021 Budget Forums to be Held Virtually

By ANIKA JACKSON
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (Sept. 15, 2021)—The Prince George’s County Planning Board of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) announces it will hold its 2021 Budget Forums virtually this fall, to solicit comments on the Commission’s budget for planning, parks, and recreation in Prince George’s County for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2022.

The virtual public forums will be held from 7–9 p.m. on:

• Tuesday, September 28, 2021

• Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Public participation is encouraged either through a phone bridge or by using GoTo Meeting (online video meeting software). The forums can be viewed live through the Planning Board’s streaming service http://mncppc.iqm2.com and a video recording will be available for review after the hearing. Individuals or representatives of community organizations who wish to speak at this year’s Budget Forum must register online, by noon, the Monday before the forum. To register, visit www.pgplanningboard.org, select “Testify at a Hearing,” select Budget Forum, choose a date and complete the form in its entirety, and submit. Following the registration submission, an email will be sent with the GoTo Meeting information by 3 p.m. the Monday before the forum, including the phone number and a web address to connect to the meeting. To submit documentation as a part of the forum, email information to PublicAffairs@ppd.mncppc.org.

Written comments will also be accepted until close of business, Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Comments may be addressed to Elizabeth M. Hewlett, Chairman, Prince George’s County Planning Board, 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772. Comments may also be faxed to Chairman Hewlett at 301-952-5074 or transmitted via email to PublicAffairs@ppd.mncppc.org.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission encourages the participation of persons with disabilities in all its programs and services. For special assistance (i.e. large print materials, assistive listening devices, sign language interpretation, etc.) call the Public Affairs Office at 301-952-4584.

 

 

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CEO Announces New COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Policies
Guidelines include random pool testing of students and proof of vaccination for student-athletes

By PRESS OFFICER
PGCPS

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (Sept. 10, 2021)—Today, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Monica Goldson announced new health and safety guidelines for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) students.

Beginning the week of September 27, schools will begin random pool testing of students regardless of symptoms and vaccination status. The school system currently tests any individual who displays symptoms of COVID-19. Parents and guardians are required to provide consent prior to testing. Approximately 10 percent of students with consent forms on file will be tested.

In addition, proof of vaccination for all student-athletes over age 12 will be required for participation in all sports. Unvaccinated individuals will be required to undergo weekly testing starting the week of October 18.

“This is another step forward in working to protect our 22,000 employees, nearly 132,000 students and their families, and all they encounter,” said Dr. Goldson. “We will continue to leverage every available safeguard for the PGCPS community.”

Students may also receive vaccinations during school hours at various middle school sites.

Prior to the start of school, PGCPS instituted a new policy requiring employees to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing. 

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Education Reform Panel Resists Hogan’s Diversity Request

By TRISHA AHMED and ALEX ARGIRIS
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 17, 2021)—The nominating committee for an education reform panel has not reopened applications, despite Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s urgent request on Sept. 10 for more diverse nominees.

Gov. Hogan’s letter requested the committee to “immediately reopen the application process and provide a slate of nominees that accurately reflect our student population.” (https://www.marylandmatters.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/AIB-Letter-Sept.-10-1.pdf)

The education reform panel, also known as the Accountability and Implementation Board for Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, will monitor the implementation of new multi-billion dollar investments in Maryland schools beginning in 2022.

The panel’s current nominees do not represent Latino communities, the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland or any other rural jurisdictions, the governor said.

In response to Hogan’s request to reopen applications, the committee is waiting for the Maryland attorney general to provide clarity, according to Dr. Shanaysha Sauls, chair of the nominating committee.

“We need to get advice from the attorney general’s office. We’re getting legal advice about the options,” Sauls told Capital News Service.

The law requires Hogan to select seven nominees by Oct. 1 from the nominating committee’s list, which must include a minimum of nine people.

The committee, which reviewed 43 total applications, submitted nine candidates—four who identify as white, four as Black and one as Asian—on Sept. 1.

Regarding the selection, “We thought it was diverse across a number of different dimensions: race, age and perspective,” Sauls said, and the governor’s letter “came as a surprise.”

Crucial to the passage of the education reform bill was the creation of a “strong accountability system” to oversee the implementation of the legislation.

The seven-member panel will be tasked with that responsibility, as well as with holding school systems accountable for student outcomes.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which became law in February after the state Legislature overrode Hogan’s 2020 veto, is a wide-ranging bill.

It represents a sweeping overhaul of Maryland’s education system, with measures such as higher teacher salaries, expanded access to pre-K and greater support for English learners.

“Without adequate representation on the (panel), it will be difficult to sufficiently meet the needs of the Latino students whom this legislation is intended to support,” Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo, D-Montgomery, the chair of the Latino Caucus, wrote to Hogan.

Fraser-Hidalgo also wrote that the Latino population has grown to nearly 12% in Maryland, according to the 2020 census, and that “Latino youth constitutes the largest proportion of English Language Learners.”

Sauls addressed the bipartisan blowback over the committee’s decision not to present any Latino nominees.

“(It was) as diverse as we could get, given the pool we had, which was limited in terms of Latinx representation,” Sauls said.

Of the 43 applicants, only one identified as Hispanic and one as Afro-Latino, according to a Sept. 1 press release from the nominating committee. (http://dls.maryland.gov/pubs/prod/NoPblTabMtg/AcctImplBrdNom/AIBNC-Announcement-Nominees.pdf) 

Hogan also expressed concerns about the nominees’ geographic distribution.

“While many of the nominees selected are undoubtedly qualified individuals, there is a discernible lack of representation from the majority of jurisdictions in the State,” Hogan noted in his letter.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, D, also wrote a letter to Hogan, expressing her concern that none of the nominees live in Prince George’s County, the state’s second-most populous jurisdiction.

“While I appreciate that a representative from Prince George’s County Community College will be considered...(the nominee) is not a county resident, nor does she interact with our public schools on a daily basis,” Alsobrooks wrote.

Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, who serves as vice-chair of the nominating committee, responded to that concern.

“I actually solicited from people in Prince George’s County who are very respected, and they chose not to do it,” Pinsky told Capital News Service. 

As of mid-day Sept. 17, the committee had not reopened applications.

“Right now there have been no changes to that slate of nine,” Sauls said. “That’s all I know until I hear further from the attorney general.”

“Since we provide counsel to the committee, any advice we may provide would be privileged,” Raquel Coombs, a spokesperson for the Maryland attorney general’s office, wrote in an email to Capital News Service.

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