Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two questions about tonight's "feasibility" kickoff.

We encourage everyone to come tonight to the choral room of Bethesda - Chevy Chase High School, for the 7 PM rollout of the "facility advisory committee", part of the MCPS "feasibility study" process for a 2nd B-CC middle school.

Our neighbors have been talking a lot, about Rock Creek Hills Park, & about a middle school. There are two questions we keep hearing from people, though, that are not about the park, or about a school, but about the "feasibility study" process itself:

1. Can this process be trusted?

The Board awarded the architectural contract to the same Virginia firm responsible for the Great Wall of Cabin John:

Here's what that community thought of their Wall (from an article by Susan Belford in the Potomac Almanac last year):
"We, the parents and the community have been duped," said Steve Weitz, representing the feeling of frustration in the standing-room-only community meeting of Cabin John parents and Fox Hills residents on Monday, May 17 at Bells Mill Elementary.

They met with James Song, director of the Division of Construction for Montgomery County Public Schools, and his team of architects, engineers, and project managers. The community’s concern is that the MCPS team had known for well over a year that the 11-foot retaining wall would be constructed along Gainsborough Road in front of the school — but had never communicated this architectural change to parents or to community members.

Residents only discovered this discrepancy when they observed a huge wall being built in front of the school....
Here's MCPS Construction Director Joyce Jessell explaining the Great Wall as just "something that happened after the community involvement portion":

Given the track record of this team, it's fair to ask: Can this process be trusted?

2. Is this process reasonable?

The formal foundation for the "feasibility study" is supposedly the official school specifications document posted on the official MCPS website. Under "site requirements", this official document specifies:
"20 useable acres (more than 20 acres may be needed due to terrain or for environmental protection requirements)".
Rock Creek Hills Park is clearly deficient, as its flat acreage is less than half of this official "requirement". We asked the MCPS why they wanted to proceed with a "feasibility study" for a deficient site. They replied that 20 acres was merely "preferred" but not "required".

So, are any of the official "requirements" actually requirements? For that matter, are any of the official "specifications" even specifications?

It's fair to ask: Is this process reasonable?

Can this process be trusted? Is this process reasonable?

If the process does not follow “requirements” then what does it follow to avoid overcapacity that will result from future development within the B-CC cluster?

If the process does not follow “requirements” then what safeguards does it have in place to provide equitable education with existing middle schools?

No comments: