Monday, May 23, 2011

"I invite you to reflect for a moment on our sense of betrayal." [Testimony at tonight's Board of Ed meeting]

Good evening. My name is Paul Beck. My wife, Sarah, and I live at 9809 Haverhill Drive, directly across the street from Rock Creek Hills Park. Sarah is an active PTA participant and has held PTA positions in 5 different MCPS schools. She has served as Grade Representative, PTA Board Community Liaison, as a member of the MCPS Parent Advisory Council as well as in other positions. She has often been a member of two PTA boards at once.

Despite this extraordinary level of engagement with MCPS, like the rest of our community, Sarah and I were unaware that Rock Creek Hills Park was being considered as a potential middle school site. We were certainly unaware that at the last hour, the Board, without meaningful public notice, elevated Rock Creek Hills Park to the preferred site, and within hours decided to move forward with that site without feeling the need for input from our community. I invite you to reflect for a moment on our sense of betrayal.

We attended the meeting held last week at North Chevy Chase Elementary School and listened carefully to the Board staff’s presentation. We heard nothing to suggest that the site selection study included an actual comparison of costs between the various sites considered, or that a consistent, accurate evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of each site was performed.

Sarah and I are strong advocates of excellent public schools. We acknowledge the need for a solution to middle school congestion in the BCC cluster. We believe, however, that final selection of the RCH Park site was made in haste and without meaningful evaluation of the deficient street access, traffic and sidewalk concerns, and site acquisition constraints.

The decision to move forward with the RCH Park site has been made without consultation with the community most affected and without any adequate examination of costs and options regarding other locations. I ask that the Board defer moving forward with the proposed feasibility study, and instead re-open the site selection study in order to conduct an accurate, meaningful, and consultative decision making process.

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