Sunday, January 18, 2015

Community Concern for a Proposal of the Montgomery County Public Schools

I attended a community meeting last week in which several hundred residents of my community came together to discuss proposals from the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to:
The community meeting suggested alternative measures:
Here is a map showing some relevant school locations.

The members of the community offered reasons that I found convincing that their alternative was superior to that of the MCPS.

Better for the Students

The Blair Ewing Center is currently operating successfully for its population of those middle school and high school students who require alternative education. Its physical structure allows the middle school students to be separated from the older high school students, and it has a number of rooms designed for enrichment programs. Moving the students to the smaller and older facility with fewer specialized facilities -- a facility that was designed for primary school students -- would not serve the older students well; there would be less separation of the middle school students from the older high school students.

The Barnsley School is now serving both magnet students and students from the local community; it has more than twice the student population for which it was designed. Moving half the students to a reopened English Manor school would be better for both the remainning Barnsley and the new English Manor students.

Moving the School Bus Depot to Avery Road Is a Bad Idea

Currently 400 school buses are based at the current depot in Crabb's Branch Way (see map). That facility will be closed. 700 cars owned by drivers and employees of the depot are parked at the Crabb's Branch daily. Even demolishing the Blair Ewing Center and using the existing park paid for by the City of Rockville as a parking lot, the Avery Rd. site (see map) is not large enough to house the School Bus Depot.

The MCPS proposal would add significantly to congestion on Route 28, which is already one of the most congested roads in the county. 400 school buses would leave from and return to Avery Rd. during morning rush hour, and the same 400 school buses would leave from and returning  to Avery Rd. during the afternoon; 700 cars would arrive at Avery Rd. in the morning hour and leave in the evening rush hour  

Parking 1100 vehicles at the Avery Rd. site on a daily basis, as well as the other operations of a School Bus Depot would appear likely to pollute Rock Creek, which is quite nearby. Millions of dollars have been spent to assure the creek water is clean. The creek (and its related walking trail and park) runs all the way into Washington DC. At least an environmental impact study would appear to be required before such an action were taken. It was suggested that the  Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission be involved in any decision involving a potential threat to the Rock Creek environment.

The Local Community Has Not Been Adequately Involved in the Decision Process

The families of the students of the Blair Ewing Center are deeply concerned with the welfare of the children who would be moved under the MCPS proposal. 

The MCPS proposal would greatly increase vehicle traffic into the English Manor neighborhood. It also raises safety concerns for the residents of the neighborhood.

The community proposal to reduce crowding at Barnsley Elementary School and reopen English Manor Elementary school would be beneficial to the students of both schools and their families, as well as to many residents of the neighborhoods surrounding those schools.

A large number of Montgomery Country residents would be negatively affected by an increase in congestion on Route 28, and a large number of residents would be affected by any deterioration of the Rock Creek environment.

Property values would be affected, perhaps quite negatively in some cases, with implications for the property taxes raised by the county. The economic impact on county residents of the MCPS proposals should at least be considered.

The Aspen Hill Civic Association representatives were informed of the MCPS plan three days before the Board of Education held its hearing to consider that plan; residents along Avery Rd. and in other concerned areas learned of the plan only much later than that meeting and than the vote of the Board approving the plan. Thus county residents have had inadequate opportunity to properly evaluate the plans, much less to respond to the Board of Education and the County Council.

The Board of Directors of the Aspen Hill Civic Association voted unanimously against the MCPS plan, and a large majority of the members of the Association expressed opposition in a poll that was taken. Other local Civic Associations are only now taking up the issue.

For more information I suggest you check out:

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