Friday, November 11, 2011

"I'm here ... to show my support for Dr. Starr's recommendation..." [Testimony at last night's Board of Ed hearing]

[Testimony from Ms. Sandra van Bochove]

I’m here today as a resident of Rock Creek Hills neighborhood but foremost, as a mother of a third grader at NCC, to show my support for Dr. Starr’s recommendation to begin a new site selection process for BCC Middle School #2 with transparency, true community involvement, and viable sites that will include private partnerships.

I applaud Dr. Starr’s leadership in recognizing a flawed process, and applaud the Board for recognizing the need for improvement within inter-agency communications, especially with Parks and Planning, and the County Council, both of whom are integral pieces to this complex puzzle.

As many of you have identified, RCHLP continues to be a site with many challenges, ranging from a fee simple conveyance of part of the site that does not identify a reclaim right, to clarification on restrictions imposed by the use of federal funds (LWCF) administered through Program Open Space. The need for clarification has sparked three Congressional inquiries to the DOI and DNR.

Although these challenges are the results of decisions made more than 20 years ago, it is reassuring that you as our educational leaders recognize the need to “cast a wider net on sites and on community engagement”, that goes beyond the role of PTAs.

In that spirit I would also like to voice my concerns regarding the proposed elementary school boundary changes. As a member of that boundary committee, like Dr. Starr, I also voted for Option #5, based on demographics, enrollment projections and appropriate classroom additions for three schools: NCC with 8; BE with either 4 or 8; RHPS with 6.

As a parent of a child at NCC I am very concerned with the current projected enrollment which out of all three schools, puts NCC at the highest capacity of 201% by next year, but yet its 8-classroom additions has been diminished to only a 6-room addition that will not accommodate a significant surge in student influx due to new boundary changes.

I would implore you to review our decision based on outdated data and consider not only the enormous capacity levels at NCC, but also the detrimental impact of these boundary changes along socio-economic lines and the diversity make-up of the BCC community which contributes to the success of our cluster nationwide.

As always, we are great supporters of all you do for our schools and the tremendous task you have in front that will be alleviated with true transparency and true community outreach to all stakeholders at hand. I applaud your forward thinking, integrity, and your pursuit to gather support by the community at large.

Thank you.

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