The Fairfax County School Board climaxed a sometimes heated nine-month debate with some citizens in the Mount Vernon area last night by voting transform the 10-year-old Quander Road Elementary School into an education center for children with moderate emtional disturbances.
The action came on an 8-to-2 vote, with the majority noting that the school has the smallest enrollment - 232 - of the five elementary schools, that serve the Fort Hunt corridor off Rte. 1. The majority also said the school building can easily be turned into the new center with a minimum of investment.
The vote drew a declaration from Quander Road PTA president Betty Quirk that she was "outraged."
"Despite their claims that there was adequate data in the study (that justified the action), unless they had material we didn't have, their vote represents an irresponsible action," she said.
The parents of children who attend the Quander Road school had argued that the school arbitrarily was picked for closing and that a comparative study of all the underpopulated schools in their area was needed before any school was closed.
Some members of the community had also suggested that Quander Road Elementary was singled out because their neighborhood is less affluent than ones nearby whose residents would have been harder to deal with. School officials rejoined that the sole reasons for choosing the school were economic.
The school officials also contend that before a study of the feasibility of closing Quander Road was authorized last May, they did compare the relative merits of closing all the schools in the Fort Hunt area.
Voting against closing Quander Road as an elementary school were board members Ruth Dell and Robert G. Hunt.
Dell, the Mount Vernon district representative, unsuccessfully proposed including the Quander Road school in a countrywide school closing study that will be finished March 5. She did, however, get the board to agree that if any details come up in this study that might cause reversed of last night's decision, the board will consider them at the end of March.
She cautioned the Quander Road community that there is "not a lot of hope here" that the decision to close the school will be overturned.
Hunt, who is a board member at large, said he would support a moratorium on school closings because he thought the county "was on a threshhold of a period of growth which we only dimly percieve at this time."
Under the plans for Quander Road adopted last night, the children in kindergarten through grade six will go to Belle View Elementary School next fall and the Head Start and mildly retarded pupils now at Quander Road will be transferred to Bucknell Elementary.