Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Do the right thing." [Testimony at today's Board of Ed meeting]

Good morning.

My name is Teddy Springer. I am a resident of Chevy Chase View and a parent of two children in MCPS schools. I sit before you today to ask that you put a “place holder” for a new middle school in our cluster in the upcoming Capital Improvement Program. I have sat here before, I have told you my concerns about building a middle school at Rock Creek Hills Local Park. And you’ll forgive me, but my words may sound very familiar, because my message has not changed. My opinion was not altered during the feasibility study process. Actually, the meetings only furthered my belief that this site is not appropriate for the construction of a middle school.

I will start with an example made clear to me Sunday night. My daughter is an eighth grader at Westland Middle School. Her Back to School Night is this Thursday, and Danny Vogelman, her principal - and an excellent one, by the way - made his usual Sunday night phone call to families. In his message, he talked about parking concerns for the evening. He warned parents that parking would be limited and suggested that we use the parking lot of the Giant located behind the school. What luck that Westland, which is built on 26 acres and yet still has limited parking, has a shopping plaza behind it. As I understand it, the plans for middle school #2 show a parking lot that is deficient in the number of spaces. What will happen at the inevitable evening events at the new middle school? Where will all the parents park? The obvious conclusion is that, because the architect has made many concessions due to the site size constraints, the cars will overflow onto the streets of Rock Creek Hills. And these streets are, in turn, too small to support the kind of traffic flow that results from school-wide events and are too small to be used as a parking lot.

Rock Creek Hills Park is a heavily-used and well-loved park, not just by neighbors, but also by residents all over Montgomery County. But it is a small park, and sacrificing it for the building of a middle school does not serve our students well or use our tax dollars wisely. Because the site is so small, the architect has scaled back the size of the school. Therefore, MCPS will be providing a school that will be too small for its own projected numbers, calling into question the use of portables. This is not the way to properly provide for our children.

Please, listen to the Parks Commission; listen to County Council members; listen to the people in our community. Do the right thing. Use a “placeholder” in the CIP. Because there are options to explore, there are other solutions, there is a way to serve your constituency and provide our children with a quality middle school.

Thank you.

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