Thursday, June 16, 2011

"How low will you go?" [Testimony at tonight's Board of Ed meeting]

[Testimony by Ms. Shannon Hamm at tonight's meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Education]

Good Evening Members of the Board of Education,

I am here tonight to request that you reopen the site selection process for a new middle school in the BCC cluster and conduct it according to your regulations, in an open and transparent manner.

Why you ask?

Your vote on May 23, 2011 to move to the feasibility study phase was driven not by the results of a properly conducted Site Selection advisory committee report, but by the crisis of overcapacity due to out of control development in the county. Let me state the fact that not one citizen from the Rock Creek Hills neighborhood was contacted to be part of this committee, as was true for some of the other sites. Exhibit B of the Site Selection report shows that fact. I would have hoped that our elected officials would keep an eye out for issues that impact us and alert us to ensure full participation. That is why I have voted in this county for 27 years.

At your May 23rd meeting, I testified, along with other residents, to the issue that the process was broken, that Rock Creek Hills park did not even meet all of the criteria used to make it the top choice. You dismissed these concerns and voted to move forward, except for Mr. Durso. While comments were made by BOE members that this information was “irrelevant” to the decision to move forward, we greatly appreciate Mrs. Berthiaume visiting with us at our park this week.

I am shocked and disappointed that you voted to move forward to create a school that will be inferior to Westland and will eliminate the 2 regulation sized soccer fields in our vicinity, where the lower portion of the county has only 12 out of the total 32 soccer fields in the county. If this school is built, it would be on 13.38 acres without an adjacent park. The smallest acreage for a middle school in the county is Pyle at 14.32 acres, but is adjacent to a park. How low will you go?

Your track record on voting for good schools and good locations is awful and the list is long. I am not the only one noticing this. We have met with many council members and other elected officials about the broken process you are supporting. We have media attention and we are not going away or giving up.

I strongly request that you reopen the site selection process immediately.

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