The Montgomery County Board of Education discussed the future of embattled Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring for 45 minutes last night and early this morning but failed to make a decision.
Several board members said they favor holding a forum or public hearing on several options proposed for the ethnically diverse school that is losing students as a result of board decisions to close several feeder schools.
Options mentioned for Blair are: closing it, bolstering it with stronger academic programs, turning it into a so-called magnet school concentrating on the performing arts or changing attendance boundaries to draw more students.
The frustrations of board members and parents over the continuing uncertainties affecting the futures of several schools and communities were evident during the board meeting, which lasted well past midnight.
"It's not right to have these people come back again and again," board member Carol Wallace said as the panel attempted but failed to come to a consensus.
Faced with declining enrollments, the board voted last November to close 27 schools, but some additional closings and consolidations were postponed until the new year.
One of the schools scheduled to close is Forest Grove Elementary near Holy Cross Hospital, but the future assignment of its students is unresolved. "We've been taken from piller to post," complained Carol Maclure, the school's PTA president.
Blair is scheduled to remain open, but the board directed its superintendent in September to examine options for the future of the school that some say has declined academically as its cosmopolitan minority mixture has increased.
"If the board leaves the current boundaries," said board member Blair Ewing, "Blair High School is doomed to failure and no magnet can save it."
As board members argued over how to improve the school, member Joseph Barse suggested that closing "may turn out to be the only lowest common denominator, the only solution we can agree on." Board members Ewing, Wallace and Elizabeth Spencer expressed opposition to closing Blair.
"We'll have to come back to this," said Board President Eleanor Zappone. "I'm not sure there is any consensus on any of the options."