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Potomac Elementary Moving?

Brickyard Road site to be considered.

Montgomery County Public Schools has been conducting a feasibility study for the modernization of Potomac Elementary School.

“In response to community inquiries, the study scope has been expanded to explore the possibility of relocating Potomac Elementary School to the MCPS property known as the Brickyard Road Site,” according to MCPS documents.

“We have had four meetings for the feasibility study, and it was announced at the last meeting that we were going to also include the Brickyard site to discuss as part of the feasibility study,” said Potomac Elementary School Principal Linda Goldberg. “That's as far as it's gone.”

Worksessions, to be held at the school at 10311 River Road, are currently scheduled for Thursday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 30, both at 7 p.m.

“We'll learn more about this on April 18,” according to Goldberg.

The school system has scheduled a final PTA and Community Presentation for Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m. “The worksessions are scheduled in the evenings to allow for maximum community and school staff involvement,” according to MCPS.

A committee of the Board of Education is currently reviewing policy on the 13 future school sites that MCPS owns.

“What I can tell you now is that the board's policy committee will review its policies guiding use of board-owned property. They will discuss and bring any suggested revisions to the Board of Education,” said Dana Tofig, spokesperson for MCPS. “At this point there are no plans for the Brickyard property. It remains a future school site and there is no active lease for the land. We won't speculate on possible future uses.”

LAST MONTH, County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett abandoned a multi-year effort to turn the 20-acre Brickyard Road site over to a soccer organization to turn into soccer fields. The proposal, presented to the community as a fait accompli in March, 2011, ignited outrage, protest and legal challenges from neighbors, citizen organizations, advocates of the Potomac Master Plan and advocates of organic farming and local food.

Most of Montgomery County’s delegation to the Maryland General Assembly signed letters dated Feb. 8, 2013 to Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent and Board of Education asking for a public process that would include consideration of the Brickyard Educational Farm, and Gov. Martin O’Malley weighed in earlier in support of the farm.

The Brickyard Road Citizens Association, Brickyard Coalition and West Montgomery County Citizens Association say they learned last week of the possibility of relocating Potomac Elementary to the site.

For more than 30 years, the site had been leased to Nick Maravell and operated as an organic farm. The property is isolated from commercial farms, allowing for the production of heirloom GMO-free seed corn and soybeans. In the last year, the Brickyard Educational Farm introduced local students to organic farming on the site as well.

EFFORTS TO PRESERVE the organic farm on the site are ongoing. At a Board of Education meeting in February, Sophia Maravell, director of Brickyard Educational Farm, testified along with two other supporters.

She asked the Board of Education to “open the Brickyard Road School site for competitive proposals so that the Brickyard Educational Farm proposal can be seriously considered,” she said.

She asked the board to open the process “so the land does not remain unattended and prone to soil degradation this spring. The possibilities of serving Montgomery County Public School students on this land are enormous and within our reach,” Maravell said.