Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dr. Starr, please provide leadership to MCPS staff.

A cursory review of the "minutes" released by Montgomery County Public Schools yesterday (September 20th) for the final (August 17th)* "working meeting" of the B-CC middle school #2 "feasibility study" reveals a misstatement of the facts.

There was no vote defined as a "preliminary vote" (a term that appears in the minutes). A vote was taken, and the courtyard** option lost. Then, the facilitator, Mr. Dennis Cross, noted that there was a division between community members and MCPS staff, the latter preferring the courtyard option, and the former preferring the option with more green space.

Mr. Cross asked the MCPS staff to explain their position. There was never any indication that a second vote would be taken.

Given the hour (remember, this meeting was smack in the middle of a workday!), people left. After they left, a second vote was called. Some people abstained from the vote; one voted twice; and MCPS staff held to their position.

The MCPS-favored option won by one vote, despite the departure of community members.

When Mr. Cross asked if the one-vote winner was the preferred option, community members noted the aforementioned circumstances, and it was agreed that, to be fair to those who had left assuming that voting was complete, both options would be described as preferred by the committee.

Of course, the damage had been done, as equalizing the two options allows the MCPS-preferred option to be selected without being viewed as contrary to the clear vote of the committee.

The "transition team report" recently prepared for our new Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Joshua P. Starr, calls for the "use of transparent processes to promote broader engagement." We call upon Dr. Starr to recognize that these events – like so much of what has transpired regarding Rock Creek Hills Park! – are contrary to that guidance.

* That's right, minutes that were to be posted "within five days" of the meeting were posted more than one month later.
**Another error in the minutes is the statement that with a courtyard, "more classrooms will have natural light". This is of course incorrect, as by law, all classrooms must have natural light.

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