Four elementary schools in the Rockville area will close next June as a result of action taken last night by the Montgomery County school board. Three of the four were recommended for closing under the superintendent's 15 year master plan.
However, after long debate, the board decided to shut down Hungerford Park Elementary School, not scheduled to close, and to spare West Rockville Elementary. West Rockville is in far better physical condition, said several board members who voted against its closing. It also has the highest minority enrollment of any elementary school in its area, and board member Blair Ewing said closing it could lend evidence to any potential legal challenge that suggests that the board has set a pattern of segregation in its decisions on school closings.
Board member Marian L. Greenblatt, noting the condition of the West Rockville facility and its high minority enrollment, proposed closing Hungerford Park instead.
Two board members, Vice President Elizabeth Spencer and President Carol F. Wallace, opposed Greenblatt's motion. Spencer said that combining students from Hungerford Park and West Rockville would result again in a problem of high minority enrollment. She noted that under Superintendent Edward Andrews' original plan, West Rockville, with 41 percent minority student population, would have been closed and most of its students sent to College Gardens Elementary, which has a 23 percent minority enrollment.
Spencer, stressing a point she has made repeatedly, said that if the board did not like one of the superintendent's recommendations it should vote against it and let the staff draw up a new option.
Wallace voted against closing Hungerford Park, explaining that there would be too great a distance between elementary schools left open in the area. She noted also that some students at Hungerford Park had been transferred once already, when they moved from Park Street school, which closed four years ago.
The other three schools are Lone Oak Elementary, Georgetown Hill Elementary, and Lake Normandy Elementary.