Montgomery County School Superintendent Edward Andrews recommended yesterday that a much-debated desegregation plan that was terminated last year by the previous school board be restructured and reinstated at six schools, including Rosemary Hills Elementary in Silver Spring.
Andrews' latest recommendation, which he said may not "be acceptable to all concerned," follows more than two months of intensive discussions with members of the six school communities in the predominantly white areas of Bethesda and Chevy Chase. It is sure to reignite what was one of the most bitterly contested decisions made by the board majority ousted in the Nov. 2 election.
That decision, which included closing Rosemary Hills Elementary school and ending a voluntary integration plan there, was later reversed by the State Board of Education in an unprecedented move because it adversely affected minorities.
Andrews' action yesterday, still to be approved by the new board, effectively revives the old desegregation plan--pairing high-minority schools with low-minority schools--to achieve a more balanced racial enrollment. The new plan, however, includes four more schools than there were a year ago when the old plan was in effect and pairs the schools at different grade levels.
Under the plan dismantled by the old school board, children from Chevy Chase, a wealthy white area, were sent to Rosemary Hills for kindergarten through second grade and children from the predominantly minority Rosemary Hills area were sent to Chevy Chase for grades three through six. Currently, both Rosemary Hills and Chevy Chase are kindergarten-through-sixth-grade schools.
Under the newest plan, two schools, Rosemary Hills and Somerset elementaries, would become early childhood centers, with all children from the six schools included in the plan attending one of those schools from preschool through first grade. (The preschool, which would be a half-day program for 4-year-olds, also is a new addition in the area.)
For grades two through six, children in the area will attend one of the four following schools: Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Westbrook and North Chevy Chase, which currently is closed.
If approved by the new board when it makes its final decision by March 1, the proposed plan would decrease minority enrollment at Rosemary Hills from nearly 50 percent to 42.1 percent. The average minority enrollment in the county is 25.4 percent.