The controversial school closings and boundary changes approved by the Montgomery County school board, which critics charge will resegregate the educational system, actually will improve racial balance next year, according to a board staff study.
The study was submitted to a state hearing examiner who is reviewing board decisions affecting six schools in the Silver Spring-Takoma Park areas. Parents have appealed the board's actions to the Maryland State Board of Education, which is empowered to overturn local school closings but never has.
"It is clear that the board's closing decisions have not adversely impacted minority students in general, or black students in particular," concluded the study by Steven M. Frankel, director of educational accountability for the Montgomery schools, and others.
Frankel said his study was conducted in reaction to an earlier report produced for the American Civil Liberties Union by Diana Pearce, a social scientist and Takoma Park Junior High parent. The earlier study, which has also been introduced into evidence, contends the closings will result in segregated neighborhoods.
The two studies start from some of the same data but reach starkly different conclusions because they differ in both assumptions and methodology.
While the ACLU study projects minority enrollment changes over the three years in which board decisions will be executed, the staff version considers only the impact next fall, for which tentative figures are available. The staff study also assumes no students will move out of the area and excludes next year's kindergarten in its computations.