Montgomery County School Superintendent Edward Andrews yesterday recommended closing 34 schools over the next five years as economy measures in the face of sharply declining enrollment.
Edwards' proposal is the most extensive school-closing plan brought forward since the county school board began consolidating the system eight years ago. Since 1973, 31 schools have been closed.
The proposed list includes Northwood and Robert E. Peary high schools, six junior high or middle schools, and 26 elementary schools, and is contained in a 700-page document compiled by school officials over the next 10 years, Andrews said. The proposed closings would ultimately save an estimated $10.7 million, although $1 million would be required to transport about 6,400 more students than now are bused.
At a press conference, Andrews said, "We can't continue to throw money into buildings. We have 180 buildings with the same number of kids that Baltimore County has in 150 buildings."
Andrews will accept written testimony or alternative plans from the public this summer before giving the school board his final recommendations. The board will hold public hearings in the fall, with final voting before action on next year's budget begins in December.
The closing recommendations are contained in a 15-year Comprehensive Master Plan for Educational Facilities, which also proposes changes in some school boundaries to remedy racial imbalance in the Silver Spring schools. Montgomery Blair High, with 55 percent minority students, would receive students from Northwood and send some minority students to Springbrook High.
The boundary changes also would give the Rosemary Hills cluster of elementary schools students from the closings of Lynnbrook and Rollingwood elementaries to add white pupils to the increasingly black and Hispanic student bodies in the cluster.
The total of 34 proposed school closings includes four that were previously recommended for this June, on which the school board still must decide. The board plans to vote on Tuesday on closing three junior highs, choosing from a list that includes Argyle, Leland, Lee and Western junior highs and Broome Middle School. The board will vote next month on Andrews' proposal to close Brookview Elementary. It already has decided to close North Bethesda Junior High and North Lake Elementary next month.
The superintendent's recommendations for 1982-1986 are as follows:
June 1982 closings: Newport Middle School and Arcola, Ayrlawn, Bells Mill, Bradley, Brookmont, Congressional, Forest Grove, Four Corners, Harmony Hills, Kensington, Kemp Mill, Lone Oak, Lynbrook, Montrose, Oak View, Olney, Rock Creek Palisades, Rollingwood, West Rockville and Woodside elementaries.
June 1983 closings: Takoma Park Junior High and Cloverly, Lake Normandy and Rocking Horse Road elementaries.
June 1984 closings: Northwood High School, and Lucy Barnsley and Georgian Forest elementaries.
June 1985 closing: Belt Junior High School.
June 1986 closing: Robert E. Peary High School.