While school communities across Montgomery County prepare to challenge the Board of Educations's school-closing program, a Silver Spring elementary school has lost its fight to be closed immediately.
The PTA of the Brookview Elementary School asked the school board Monday night to close Brookview this June instead of a year from now, as Superintendent Edward Andrews recommended. A PTA spokesman said the school is underenrolled and the building is in "unsatisfactory" condition, and it was felt that the closing could be undertaken more smoothly now, before the numerous other closings expected next year.
The board, however, voted to postpone action on Brookview until November. Voting to postpone the decision were Marian L. Greenblatt, Eleanor Zappone and Joseph R. Barse. The lone dissenting vote came from Blair Ewing; Suzanne K. Peyser was on vacation and Elizabeth Spencer was absent due to illness in her family.
Greenblatt argued that closing Brookview early would, in effect, mean imposing busing without proper deliberation. Students would be transferred to the Jackson Road, Cresthaven, Francis Scott Key Junior High and Cannon Road schools. Representatives of those schools expressed reservations about an influx of students from Brookview.
Brookview's enrollment is more than 75 percent minority, one of the highest percentages in the county, according to Andrews.
Greenblatt moved to change the board's policy on racial balance in schools. The board now examines schools where the percentage of minority students is more than 20 percent above or below the countywide average, and is compelled to take more drastic action when more than half of the enrollment is made up of minority pupils.
If the board accepts Greenblatt's motion, a "floating" limit will be adopted. This would compel the board to "look carefully" at a school when its proportion of minority student exceeds 40 percent of the county average.
Currently, Greenblatt said, this would mean the board would not be forced to examine a school's racial makeup until about 60 percent of its students are minority, since the county average now stands at about 20 percent. s
The board also faced angry members of its Minority Relations Monitoring Committee at Monday's meeting. Committee cochairman John Smith accused the board of "stonewalling" the panel by refusing to act on its January report and by "firing" every adult member of the committee, effective July 23. The board recently passed a rule limiting advisory-committee memberships to two years, unless specifically extended by the board.
Smith demanded a meeting with the board before the July 23 expiration date. Board president Carol F. Wallace said the board had met with the committee in April, but committee members had walked out. "The Board of Education did not walk out on you," she told the panel members.
Committee member James L. Robinson said the April walkout occurred "when it was disclosed that several members of the board had written the president of the United States and the secretary of education, making it clear that they did not support efforts to bring this county into compliance [with Civil Rights legislation]."
The letter to which Robinson referred was written on board stationery and signed by Barse, Greenblatt, Peyser and Zappone. Andrews noted that a compliance inspection had taken place in spite of the letter, but the results of that visit were not known.
Among the monitoring committee's recommendations were a review of student suspension policy, special programs and increased counseling for minority students and establishment of a fund for upgrading minority students' reading and mathematics skills.