Monday, October 17, 2011

"Great confidence"?

At the October 11th meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Education, Dr. Joshua P. Starr, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, said:
"What's most important to me, quite frankly, and what I've been working on with the team, is making sure our community, our funders, everybody, really understands how decisions are being made, because they are extremely complex and there are of course competing interests and demands. But if we step back a little bit and take a look at how decisions are being made, what the data are, so that everybody really understands what's happening, when, and why, I think folks will have great confidence in the capital improvement program (CIP) that we will be presenting in a few weeks."
We agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment! The idea that the closer you look, the better we look, is a guiding principle of many professions, and is an always-appropriate aspiration for a public servant.

So, would it be possible to have "great confidence" in a CIP that listed Rock Creek Hills Park as the site of B-CC middle school #2? If we "step back a little bit and take a look at how decisions are being made", we see that:
And, aside from the general principle of respect for the law, what about the specifics of the proposed construction? If we were to "really understand what's happening, when, and why", then we would see that:
"The MCPS feasibility study [proposed] a middle school that is too small to meet projected enrollment; to meet bus, faculty, parent and visitor parking; and to provide adequate playing fields. To accommodate 1,200 students will require expansion, which will increase costs and limit sports programs even more. The site does not provide parity with other middle schools in the county per MCPS requirements." 
A middle school on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park would be unreasonably expensive, fail to provide parity with other middle schools, and violate the rule of law. Its inclusion in the CIP would not be consistent with "great confidence" in "what's happening".

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