The Montgomery County Board of Education last night unanimously approved a plan that will reduce the number of minority students at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School by pairing it with nearby Oakview Elementary.
"I don't think this is a perfect solution, but it's the best one we can offer at the moment," said board member Sharon DiFonzo. "We're trying to choose what's best and what is least wrong, and . . . it's certainly the least wrong."
The pairing plan will assign kindergarten through third-grade pupils to New Hampshire Estates and grades four through six to Oakview , beginning in September 1987.
The plan was opposed by Oakview parents and civic leaders, who said that children from the community would be limited to attending the community schools and would not be able to attend magnet programs elsewhere. Teachers and parents of students at New Hampshire Estates urged approval of the plan because their school needs to be renovated and is crowded.
The plan is part of an effort by school officials to improve schools in the Blair cluster of schools in East Silver Spring and Takoma Park, and to reduce their minority enrollments. New Hampshire Estates has a minority enrollment of 91 percent, the highest in the county, while Oakview is 42 percent minority.
School officials will ask the County Council for an extra $3.8 million to renovate and add classrooms at New Hampshire Estates, Oakview and Rolling Terrace elementary schools. The council has allotted $8.7 million to renovate the Blair cluster schools, but the plan will cost $12.5 million.
As part of the pairing plan, a literary arts magnet program will be offered at New Hampshire Estates and Oakview in an effort to attract white students. A French language immersion program will remain at Oakview, but a similar Spanish language program will be moved to Rolling Terrace.