To the Editor:
An open letter to the Board of Education and the community:
Recently, the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) decided to consider moving the Potomac Elementary School (PES) to the Brickyard site. On April 18, MCPS held the first public meeting at the PES to consider this alternative. Near the end of the meeting, the MCPS staff took a poll of the approximately 40 people in attendance. When the MCPS staff asked those favoring moving the PES to the Brickyard site to raise their hand, not a single hand was raised. Not a single person voted in favor of moving Potomac Elementary School (PES) from its present location to the proposed Brickyard Road site.
Composed largely of concerned parents of PES students, the approximately 40-member audience strongly rejected moving the PES to the Brickyard school site. As the BOE representative acknowledged, the result suggests firm opposition to the MCPS plans. The unanimity of the vote came as a surprise.
A few days later, the MCPS posted the minutes/notes for that meeting on the web site. The meeting notes do not even mention that such a poll was taken, much less the result — the unanimous opposition to moving PES to Brickyard. The failure to include the poll results in the notes of the meeting is troubling; especially in light of the recent court order stating that the BOE needs to improve transparency in dealing with the public. The measure of public sentiment is a critical aspect of that meeting and needs to be included in the public record and not kept secret.
The Brickyard site is at the extreme southeast corner of the PES service area, a long way to drive for most of the PES families. Fear of traffic, and the additional time it would require each day to navigate through Potomac Village at rush hour, was of concern to many attending the meeting. It was also discovered that the MCPS had failed to provide the required Notice to adjoining property owners and most community organizations.
The BOE had unveiled a detailed drawing of its design for a new school both at the current location of PES and at Brickyard. The architects were professional and engaging. But no one seemed interested in moving the school. For the parents, concerns about location trumped design. A new school should have been built 10 years ago. The existing PES is one of the oldest school structures in the county. The MCPS should be ashamed at the delays over the years in building a new school.
Parents wanted a new school, but at the present location in Potomac. We ask that the MCPS work with the PES community to build that school as quickly as possible. Further delay will not be tolerated.