Monday, April 16, 2012

How can the Superintendent justify a decision that his own staff can't defend?

On Friday a letter was sent from Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Françoise Carrier to Montgomery County Board of Education President Shirley Brandman, reporting on the Planning Board's review of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) proposal to take the site of of Rock Creek Hills Park from the Parks Department in order to build a middle school. The letter is timely, as the Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the proposal tomorrow. More to the point, although MCPS claims to have conducted a thorough analysis of sites, it couldn't answer questions about sites considered, even the site it selected as the recommended alternative to Rock Creek Hills Park:
"The Board found it difficult to fully assess the cost to the park system of MCPS taking North Chevy Chase Local Park rather than Rock Creek Hills Local Park because no information was available about which parts of the North Chevy Chase site school facilities would occupy, and which existing park facilities might be preserved. While two MCPS personnel attended our mandatory referral meeting and participated when asked, neither had any information about what the MCPS program would look like on that site."
The Planning Board provides an evaluation of the recent MCPS Site Selection Advisory Committee (SSAC):
"The majority of the Planning Board expressed concerns about the SSAC process, most notably that the sites reviewed by the SSAC did not receive a thorough analysis in a manner that would allow the SSAC and the Planning Board to adequately compare and contrast impacts and cost."
The letter reports the vote of the Planning Board Commissioners that:
"MCPS should enter into serious discussions with the Parks Staff and the Planning Board to assess the feasibility of locating the middle school on the combined site of the former Lynnbrook Elementary School and Lynnbrook Local Park..." 
When agencies team up to develop the best outcome possible, everyone wins. The Parks Department offer of land that they own, to serve the needs of MCPS, is an example of the professionalism we should expect from our public servants.
You can read the three-page letter from Chair Carrier to President Brandman below:

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