Eric Levenson Maryland 0

Citizens Against BOE Breaking of Rockville Communities

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Dear Board Members

We as a community express our sincere concerns with your boundary options for Richard Montgomery Elementary School #5.

Below, we show how the published factors that you as a board use to make decisions regarding boundaries are violated. They are violated by Option D and E, but in particular by board alternative Option C.

(1) Geographic Proximity of Communities to Schools/Minimize Travel Time/Maximize the Number of Walkers

This option disregards geographic proximity of communities to schools and minimizes the number of walkers. It requires much longer bus rides for young children in multiple neighborhoods (sometimes by as much as 300%) without due consideration of local traffic. Options A and B maximize these factors.

  • Option C assigns children in Zone RP4 to Twinbrook ES even though 10 other elementary schools are closer than Twinbrook ES, and bypasses 2 cluster schools.
  • Children in Zone T5 are closer to 5 other elementary schools than to College Gardens ES, bypassing another cluster elementary school.
  • Children in Zone T2 are closer to 5 other elementary schools than to Ritchie Park, and bypass 2 other cluster schools.

(2) Stability of school assignments over time/Minimize the relocation of students out of their home schools

Option C reassigns students from all 4 existing cluster schools and removes between roughly 20 and 30 % of the student population of the existing cluster schools and buses them to other schools. Many families will consider alternative schooling options if they decide to remain in their current neighborhoods. Options A and B are the best options for this factor.

(3) Demographics Characteristics of the Students Population

Option C increases the FARMS rate at Ritchie Park ES to 40% and decreases the FARMS rate at Twinbrook to 44%, both of which differ from the roughly 25% FARMS rate of the three other schools in the cluster. Therefore, Option C does not decrease differences in FARMS rates between all elementary schools in the cluster. In addition, according to research by H. Schwartz [1], there is no data to support improved student performance when FARMS rates are above 30%. Therefore, the expected FARMS rates decrease for Twinbrook Elementary to 44% is unlikely to be beneficial, and the FARMS rates increase to 40% for Ritchie Park may actually be detrimental. Clearly, the case for drastic BOE student relocation is in question. The title I status and funding of Twinbrook elementary is removed by both options C and D.

(4) Facility Utilization/ Keep schools below 100% utilization and eliminate portable classrooms

With Option C, utilization at Twinbrook and Beall Elementary drops to 82% and 86% below capacity, respectively, over 5 years, essentially wasting 15% of space at each school, which may ultimately result in another need for school reassignment in the future. It also keeps Ritchie Park and College Gardens over capacity for 4 and 5 years respectively. The new Tower Oaks development with capacity of 255 single family homes is a major concern not addressed by C. Considering long term growth and stability, options A and B are the best for this factor.

(5) Promotes a Diverse Student Body

All 4 currently existing Richard Montgomery cluster elementary schools are already very diverse, with roughly 1/3 or less of students being Caucasian and at least 10% of students each Hispanic, African American, and Asian. The school reassignment increases the proportions slightly at some schools while decreasing them slightly at other schools, with significant changes. Therefore, Option C does not significantly increase the level of diversity in what is already a very racially and ethnically diverse cluster.

(6) Minimize splits to community identity, subdivisions, and civic association areas.

Option C clearly maximizes splits to community identity, subdivisions, and civic association areas. Two of Ritchie Parks’ and 3 of Bealls’ 6 zones would be reassigned, dispersed to different schools. Five of Twinbrook’s 6 zones would be reassigned to 3 different schools. 3 of the 4 existing RM cluster schools would be split. Options A and B are the best for this factor.

With respect to community identity, the school is the central component. Parents participate on the PTA, attend school events, and utilize onsite childcare resources for before and after care. Taking students out of their community limits families’ ability to become active in the school community. It also puts additional stress on working parents who would spend significantly more time traveling and less time positively promoting family with their children.

Many additional factors need consideration!

We as a community expect complete transparency from our elected officials. All of your proposed options will affect us as a community to varying extents including D and E, however, we are united in our opposition to Option C. This alternative must be removed from consideration.


Residents of Richard Montgomery School Cluster

[1] Heather Schwartz, Housing Policy Is School Policy: Economically Integrative Housing Promotes Academic Success in Montgomery County, Maryland, The Century Foundation (2010)

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