It's a shame The Post didn't interview participants in Montgomery County's school-based management experiment other than those from Rosemary Hills {"Opting Out of Democracy," Metro, June 10}. As parents from Somerset Elementary, another "pilot" school, we'd like to tell a similar story with a different ending.

At our school, lack of time, experience, and energy were also constant enemies of progress, and the county's tepid or absent support for waiving bureaucratic procedures didn't help either. But sheer perseverance coupled with a restructured decision-making process has kept local autonomy a plausible goal and resulted in some tangible academic accomplishments.

The steering committee concept as a way to make decisions and achieve consensus didn't work at Somerset. The committee felt too much like another bureaucratic layer, and it still limited decision-making to a select few. After nine months of steering committee management, Somerset moved to a committee-of-the-whole format, which involves parents and the entire school staff. At business meetings after school every other week, instructional issues are debated and decided. Task forces meet separately to work on specific projects and report back to the whole group.

The decision-making process is time-consuming, sometimes inefficient and consistently slow. But the expected long-term benefits override the short-term frustrations. As a result of this year's work, for example, Somerset has created a geography curriculum, has developed new report cards for upper and lower grades and has begun addressing shortcomings in math instruction.

None of these steps has been taken without stumbling, and only a tiny dent has been made in the mountain of curricular items we want to improve. But what we have gained in these 18 months is a process that legitimizes local experimentation and sustains an open dialogue between teachers and parents about a better education for our kids. HANNAH FEIN KATHLEEN FLORIO Chevy Chase