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Can a New School Make College Park a Real College Town?

University of Maryland

University of Maryland president Dr. Loh’s recent effort to create a new quality middle / high school in College Park is certainly a praiseworthy initiative. But the question remains to many – how much influence this proposed school will have in transforming College Park to a real college town.

According to the preliminary plan, the new school which is named as “the College Park Academy”, would be a partnership between the university, the city of College Park and Prince George’s County Public Schools. Students would take core classes taught by county school system teachers as well as general education classes taught by university professors to qualify for college credit.

As a side effect, the plan aims to attract many UMD staff closer the university. Currently most, if not all, of the UMD staff live outside of the city boundary.

It will remain to see how a charter school in Prince George’s will fair when it opens its door. The county has six charter schools, all having mixed results.

But more importantly, the lack of quality school education is only a small piece of puzzle why many don’t want to move to College Park. The other top complaints people have about College Park are crime, poor transportation and quality of housing.

It’s great to see Loh is eyeing to improve College Park’s image along those areas too. He has recently formed a number of task forces to study those areas. A number of local and state officials are part of those task forces.

The bottom line? Unless the city gets an overhaul along those important areas, situation will remain the same. College Park can truly become a college town, only when UMd’s students and staff live inside the city boundary and become true residents of a quality college town.

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