A plan that could lead to the closing of high schools and junior high schools in Montgomery County will be submitted by Superintendent Charles M. Bernardo to the school board at its meeting tonight.
The possible closings or consolidations would come under what Bernado called "the first comprehensive look and systematic approach" to the question of changing and declining school enrollment in the county.
All of the schools suggested by Bernardo as the subjects for study are in the highly populated southern section of the county close to Washington. This is the area where schools have experienced the greatest reduction in enrollment in recent years.
Bernardo's plan divides the county into five areas, and the areas that would be considered first are those in which elementary schools have closed.
Although public pressure or school board action migh modify his plan, Bernardo said that these are the schools which his staff would like to study first on the question of closing or consolidation:
High schools. Area 2: Montgomery Blair; Einstein; Kennedy; Northwood; Wheaton.
Junior high schools. Area 1: Kensington; Leland; North Bethesda; Pyle; Tilden; Western Area 2: Argyle; Eastern; Lee; Sligo; Takoma Park.
Elementary schools. Area 1: Bethesda; Lynnbrook; Radnor. Also the cluster of Bannockburn; Brookmont; Westbrook; Wood Acres. Are 2: Arcola; Forest Grove; Forest Knolls; Glen Haven; Kemp Mill.
"It is a false assumption (for a parent to make) that just because his child's school is not in a cluster being studied that his school is safe" from closing, Bernardo said.
Bernardo's plan does not actually recommend the closing of any schools. Rather, it proposes that each of the county's general purpose high schools, junior highs and elementary schools be grouped in geographic "clusters," and that during the next five years each "cluster" be evaluated as to whether schools within it should be closed.
The earliest any junior high school would be closed is Sept. 1 1979. The earliest any high school would be closed is Sept. 1, 1980, Bernardo said.
Bernardo spoke with reporters Monday about the tentative five-year facilities plan, but placed an embargo on publication of the information until today.
"I am excited by the possibility of managing" the changing enrollment in the county schools, Bernardo said. "Its seems to me we have all of the pieces in harness now" for a comprehensive look at changing enrollment patterns in the county, he said.
That comprehensive look at the changing nature of educational needs in the county has been at the forefront of Bernardo's oftern jargon-laden efforts since taking office. When pressed for a clear summary of what he was attempting, he finally said, "We want to spend money direct on children. Therefore we don't want to spend any more money than we have to on such things as oil and heating bills, buildings costs, etc. Therefore, we have to be able to predict our needs, which our plan does."
The board is not expected to take any action on the plan tonight. Under a schedule laid down by Bernardo, he will take comments on the proposal until mid-April, when he will make his final recommendations to the board.
The board may then hold a public hearing on the matter before naming on May 15 the final clusters to be studied. By mid-June, area superintendents, local principals and PTA presidents will form local evaluation committees.
Final recommendations will bw made by Bernardo in December, with possible public hearings to be heldin December and January.