Parents from the Oakview Elementary School community in east Silver Spring, upset with desegregation plans to pair the school with the nearby New Hampshire Estates Elementary School, have informally proposed an alternative to the school board.
The parents' proposal would combine Oakview with nearby Highland View Elementary School at either of the two campuses. The school would offer a magnet program strong in basic skills.
In September the Montgomery County Board of Education approved a plan to reduce the number of minority students at New Hampshire Estates by pairing it with Oakview. The first four grades would attend New Hampshire Estates and the next three would attend Oakview.
New Hampshire Estates parents supported the plan, saying it would bring needed renovations and help balance the school's 91 percent minority population. Oakview's total school population is about 40 percent minority, but the school is separated into two major programs: a French immersion magnet program with 27 percent minority enrollment, and the regular school program with 70 percent minority enrollment. Highland View has a 54 percent minority population.
Oakview parents objected to the school board plan on the grounds that it would restrict the Oakview students' opportunities to attend magnet programs in other county schools or even Oakview's own French program.
The plan also called for adding 13 classrooms at Oakview, but several County Council members have expressed reluctance to fund the $500,000 addition. The council is scheduled to vote on the funding Monday.
The Oakview parents said one of their key concerns would be addressed under their plan because Oakview students would be allowed to attend the French program, which would be housed at either Oakview or Highland View. New Hampshire Estates also would receive badly needed renovation and a strong magnet program and would serve Head Start students through sixth grade.
"What we tried to do was to put together a plan where everyone gets something out of this and so nobody bears an unreasonable burden," said Dale Majerle, an Oakview parent and officer in the PTA.
Karl Katterjohn, president of the Highland View PTA, said, "We are interested in the concept of merging the two schools into a single magnet, but before we'd agree to anything we would want certain things taken care of like where it would be located."
Nelly Mascal, incoming president of the New Hampshire Estates PTA, said her PTA probably would not oppose the proposal if it addresses concerns such as getting a strong magnet program, extra resources and smaller classes.
School Board member Bob Shoenberg said that he has reviewed the Oakview parents' proposal and that, although he is concerned that the plan does not address the problem of lowering racial balance at New Hampshire Estates, the entire school board should discuss it soon. "The community has made a good faith effort to come up with something, and it deserves some attention," he said.