The Montgomery County Board of Education engaged in an emotional but inconclusive discussion on the future of embattled Blair High School in Silver Spring at the end of a marathon meeting that extended into early yesterday morning.
The board's lack of decisiveness was the subject of some of the debate within its ranks, as well as the complaint of citizens who urged the fractious panel to reach a consensus on boundary changes and student assignments affecting other schools as well.
Faced with declining enrollments, the board voted in November to close 27 schools, but Blair was not one of them. In December, however, the board directed the superintendent of schools to examine options for the future of the school that some say has declined academically as its cosmopolitan minority enrollment has increased.
Options mentioned for Blair are: Closing it, bolstering it with stronger academic programs, turning it into a school for the performing arts or changing attendance boundaries to draw more students, especially whites.
With Blair's future unresolved, parents appealing already approved school closings in the Silver Spring-Takoma Park area are scheduled to continue their case today before a State Board of Education hearing examiner in Silver Spring.
"Communities are being pitted against each other," said Dianne Smith, PTA president of Oakland Terrace Elementary School, whose students could be shifted around under one of the many alternative schemes for Blair feeder schools.
"Our future has been unsettled so many times," complained Carol Maclure, of the Forest Grove Elementary School near Holy Cross Hospital. The school is scheduled to close but the future assignment of its students is unresolved, with one option merger with Oakland Terrace. "We've been taken from pillar to post."
"It's not right to have these people come back again and again," board member Carol Wallace said. School Superintendent Edward Andrews agreed and urged the board to make clear by the meeting's end where it was headed in the case of Blair so "the decks are known to everybody." But board President Eleanor Zappone said no decision could be made because no consensus existed among the board members.