Saturday, March 12, 2005

Sentinel reports: Residents claim school board 'misled and cheated' them

"Angry residents near Seven Locks Elementary School in Bethesda say they've been misled and cheated by the Montgomery County Board of Education," the Montgomery County Sentinel reports on March 12.

"Following the school board's unanimous decision to approve preliminary plans Tuesday for the proposed replacement of Seven Locks Elementary School, David Tiktinsky, the father of a first grader who was sporting a '' T-shirt, said, 'my gut reaction is, I feel like I'm in the Soviet Union,'" according to the report by Kelli Gavant. Highlights:

* PTA frozen out of process. "the P.T.A was not invited to be part of the decision making process for the proposed replacement school, and while 'literally years were spent on the previous plans, the Board's plan for a new school appeared to emerge almost overnight.'"

* School Board seen putting developers' interests ahead of children. Local PTA leader Livleen Gill said "parents 'expect the School Board to act in the long-term interests of current and future children of Montgomery County; not the county or city governments, not the developers. . . .'"

* Only one member concerned about community. "Board member Steve Abrams (District 2) was the only member at Tuesday's meeting that went up to bat to voice the community's concerns, ask pointed questions, and put the 'community distrust issue' on the table."

* Backroom deal? "Abrams asserted that 'despite denials, an urban legend exists' that 'in a back room somewhere a deal was cut,' and he was emphatic in stating he doesn't want school decisions and space decisions to get tied into political maneuvers. Sharon Cox (At-Large) countered, 'I don't believe confidence is going to be built on making statements into the ether.'"

* Weast waffling? MCPS Superintendent "Weast said in a letter a year ago, 'once the Seven Locks Elementary School is relocated to the Kendale Road site, I believe the current site at the intersection of Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard would no longer be needed for school purposes... I am asking the BOE to authorize staff to explore the opportunities that may exist to leverage the assets it owns to serve the needs of our growing school population.' However, on Tuesday, he said he was 'not prepared to make a recommendation to dispose' of the Seven Locks property and that 'the rate of change (of population growth) is going to determine what we're going to be doing.'"