Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Children need both schools and parks."

[An October 27 email from Ms. Susan Buchanan to Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr, and the members of the Montgomery County Council.]

Dear Dr. Starr and Montgomery County Council Members,

Due to the controversial nature in which the site selection took place for the BCC Middle School #2, I am writing to ask you to include a placeholder in the CIP for this facility and take some time to explore alternatives to Rock Creek Hills as the site for the new school.

I believe MCPS and Montgomery County as a whole should exhaust all options for new school sites before considering parks. Children need both schools and parks. We are an overweight, sedentary society and we should not rob children of their neighborhood outdoor space because it's the cheapest or simplest option. Please select a more balanced site selection advisory committee and give them free reign to explore outside-the-box options for a new middle school site.

For example:

  • The committee which chose Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville and Rock Creek Hills Parks didn't explore options like reopening Lynnbrook Elementary School in East Bethesda (still in MCPS inventory) and shuffling elementary boundaries in a way that might allow either Rock Creek Forest or NCC to be renovated and become the new school. If Spanish Immersion were moved to Silver Spring International, this could work. It would also solve the BCC elementary school boundary dilemma by giving East Bethesda the true "walking school" they desire without re-segregating the mini-cluster.
  • Chevy Chase Lake company owns land they would be willing to sell to MCPS for the new school. Yet, no one from MCPS or the site selection advisory committee explored this option. Perhaps land in the MCPS inventory elsewhere in the county could be sold to raise funds to purchase a plot of land in the down county for the new middle school.
  • People keep throwing out the idea of building a "sixth grade academy" at Westland, an idea that should be further explored.

Other options and creative ideas abound. Please allow our cluster the opportunity to provide ideas and don't take action to approve Rock Creek Hills Park based on the flawed site selection process conducted for this middle school. We need our green space in the down county - so much land is already paved over and primed for redevelopment. Please don't pave a park to build a school.

Thank you for your consideration of this request,

Susan Buchanan
Silver Spring, MD

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