Monday, May 23, 2011

"In this park 50 languages say hi to each other." [Testimony at tonight's Board of Ed meeting]

Mr. Barclay and members of the School Board.

My name is Cathy Fink. I am a multi-GRAMMY Award winner in the field of children's music and have spent much of my career merging the arts and education. I am here to urge you to re- open the site selection process for a new middle school in the BCC Cluster and keep Rock Creek Hills Park intact as a fabulous community park.

In this park 50 languages say hi to each other.

In this park children learn to bike ride, roller blade, swing and play.

In this park, several hundreds of people converge every weekend for soccer and there are daily after school games.

In this park people leave the internet and create community while walking their dogs, playing with their children, and enjoying the green space.

In this park people of all ages and all demographics get exercise of the body and heart.

In this neighborhood, we have ½ block of sidewalk.

In this neighborhood we have small streets that will not easily manage 50 school buses and hundreds of parents' cars a day.

Most importantly, in this neighborhood, we are united in our belief that we were not given adequate participation in a process that should not be about schools vs. parks, but is about finding the truly BEST location for a much needed school.

You have ignored the recommendation of County Executive Leggett when he said, "I urge the Board of Education to undertake an aggressive community and public input process". He could not possibly have meant, "after you've announced your decisions", for then, what would be the point of input?

County Executive Leggett wrote me on May 20 and said, "I understand the concerns of the community. You indicate that your community is working to look at other potential school site locations. I encourage you to discuss any locations identified with MCPS, and I hope that MCPS will work with the community to consider any viable site..." Of course that can only be accomplished by MCPS involving me and my community in the process.

I will actively participate in the formal appeal regarding the lack of notice and communication regarding this decision, but encourage you to save time and the county's money, which does not come easy these days, by simply doing what's right and re-opening that process now. If you do that, and engage our community with representation on the site selection committee, we will be proactive in helping you to look more thoroughly at a broader range of possible locations.

You plan to award a contract for a feasibility study tonight. Again, even this process is supposed to involve the community. Why is all of this done behind closed doors and the community notified after the fact?

This is not a discussion of schools vs. parks. We need them both. This is a discussion of community engagement, which is part of your mandate and you have failed.

It is time for you to earn the T Shirt that our school children are encouraged to earn. It says, "Plays Well With Others".

No comments: