Letter on School Site

Letter on School Site

Today the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee of the Montgomery County Council will meet to begin its consideration of the White Flint Sector Plan. The Committee staff made public its recommendations last Friday. One of the first items discussed was where to put a possible new elementary school in White Flint; Montgomery County Public Schools projections show that a new school might be needed as White Flint develops, but not for many years. The Montgomery County Board of Education will make any final decision on school siting. The White Flint Sector Plan, however, could reserve land for a school, and the issue was discussed many times during the planning process.

 Today, four members of the Board of Friends of White Flint sent a letter to the PHED Committee discussing the school siting recommendation. Here is the letter:

Dear Councilmember Knapp:Today the PHED Committee will begin consideration of the White Flint Sector Plan. One of the first items is a site for a possible elementary school within the Sector. The Board of Education has recommended a site next to White Flint Park in the southern portion of the Sector; the PHED Committee Staff recommendation is to adopt the BoE position.

The school siting issue has been a part of the White Flint Plan discussions for many years. We attach a brief summary of these discussions, including comments from the White Flint Advisory Group.

There was insufficient time after the Staff recommendation was made public for Friends of White Flint to use its regular policy development process, which includes publication and public discussion. Nevertheless, the Committee should recognize that the White Flint Park site has been rejected by the Advisory Group (which is the basis for most Friends of White Flint positions), has no local support, and has significant local community opposition. The proposed school site could also interfere with the extension of Executive Boulevard, one of the new streets making up the “robust street network” which is essential to provide both walkability and mobility.

There are acceptable alternative sites available, including two or more in the northern part of the Sector and, as proposed by the Advisory Group, others outside, but near the Sector and within the Walter Johnson Cluster.

It is our personal belief that the Board of Education deliberative process was not sufficiently thorough and did not include sufficient public participation to be given the blanket endorsement suggested by Committee staff. The school site selection process is important enough that public participation should be maximized, not minimized or ignored. 

As you know, one of the principal purposes of Friends of White Flint is to foster discussion of this type of issue in order to seek consensus on solutions. This was done at the Planning Board level, but not by BoE or MCPS. We believe that, if asked, the Friends of White Flint policy adoption process would result in a recommendation that the Council reject the White Flint Park school site in favor of one of the alternatives.

Thank you for your support of the White Flint Sector Plan.

Barnaby Zall
Co-Chair

Friends of White Flint

301-231-6943 (direct dial)

David Freishtat

Director

Friends of White Flint

Michael Smith

Director

Friends of White Flint

Michael Springer

Director

Friends of White Flint

cc: Councilmembers Floreen, Elrich and Berliner

The attachment can be found here: White Flint School Site

Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall

Website:

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