Apparently abandoning its plan to separate the issues of school closings and busing the Prince George's County School Board voted last night to consider two elementary schools for closing that have a high percentage of students bused from other communities.
The board voted last spring to postpone consideration of a plan to change the county's busing pattern and permit more children to attend their neighborhood schools. That move was strongly opposed by a number of community groups and several black leaders.
The board then decided that it should consider elementary schools for closing primarily on the basis of declining enrollment and appointed community task forces to study clusters of schools in making recommendations for closings.
Last night, however, after accepting the recommendations of five community task forces, the board accepted motions from three board members that schools be added to the list of schools that will be reviewed at public hearings for possible closing. Two of the three schools have never been studied by a community task force for closing, and one, Owens Road Elementary in Oxon Hill, was recommended for closing two years ago but allowed to remain open on a 5-to-4 vote of the board.
Board member Angelo Castelli recommended that Owens Road Elementary be restudied for closing and admitted that he wanted the school closed so that the students that were bused there from other communities would be transferred back to their neighborhood schools.
After Castelli's recommendation was accepted, board member James Golato, declaring that "in view of the fact that we have decided there may be other reasons for doing these things," proposed that Randolph Village Elementary School be considered for closing. Many students from the Kettering area are bused to Randolph Village, and Kettering citizens have campaigned to have Randolph Village closed so their children will no longer be bused.
The board also accepted a motion by Board President Norman H. Saunders that the Andrews Air Force Base Elementary be considered for closing. That school is across the street from Camp Springs Elementary in Saunders' election district, and Camp Springs has been recommended for closing by Superintendent Edward J. Feeney.