Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From the Rosemary Hills Neighbors' Association [Testimony at today's Board of Ed meeting]

Superintendent Starr and Board Members,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you on my community's behalf. My name is Lynn Amano, and I live in Silver Spring. I serve as Co-president of the Rosemary Hills Neighbors’ Association, representing approximately 300 houses surrounding Rosemary Hills Primary School.

We are very concerned about two issues that you are considering in the coming weeks: Proposed boundary changes to Rosemary Hills Primary School, and the new Middle School #2 which is currently being studied for Rock Creek Hills Park.

We believe a vocal constituency is working to undo the successful integration policies that have made our schools the desirable cluster they are today, under the guise of geographic convenience. Nationwide, this is known as a movement to create “Neighborhood Schools.”

The committee that developed the boundary criteria for RHPS was made up primarily of residents from just one community, while the community surrounding the school went unrepresented. The resulting criteria were based almost solely on geographical proximity. Most of the resulting options would double the FARMS and minority population at North Chevy Chase Elementary and cut the same population at Bethesda Elementary by half.

The new middle school planned for Rock Creek Hills is of concern to us for the same reason. The decision made to locate the new Middle School in the "Far North or East of the cluster" sets up a potential geographical divide along racial and economic lines in our cluster if proximity is used as a determining factor for attendance.

The decisions to send Bethesda and Chevy Chase children to Rosemary Hills Primary School and Rosemary Hills children to Westland Middle school, while not geographically convenient, were put in place to balance our cluster and provide an equal education for all BCC students. The national ranking of our schools has shown this to be a successful plan.

The Board of Education’s Quality Integrated Education policy stresses the importance of balanced demographics over geographical considerations.

We respectfully ask that the Board not allow political pressure from a vocal, self-interested minority to undo the gains to all of our cluster’s students made through integration.

Thank you,

Lynn Amano
Rosemary Hills Neighbors' Association

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