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Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ June 2019

Update on the Forest Knolls Elementary School Boundary Study

By Frances Spiegel

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) continues to move forward with its study to determine the new boundaries for Forest Knolls Elementary School.  The goal of the study is to identify the portion of the current Forest Knolls area that will be reassigned to sister schools Montgomery Knolls (Pre-K to 2nd grade) and Pinecrest (3rd to 5th grade).  The reassignment is necessary because Forest Knolls is currently overcrowded and MCPS has determined that a physical expansion of Forest Knolls is not feasible.

MCPS is seeking community feedback on its staff-proposed options, released on 23 April, and has posted a survey on its website for this purpose.  The survey and details about the proposed boundary options are available at www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/planning/DownCountyESBoundaryStudy.aspx.

The survey asks respondents to rank the reconfigured boundary options by preference and also to rank the relative importance of the factors that the County is weighing as it comes to a determination:  geography, demographics of the student population, and facility utilization.  The survey is available in several languages and is open until 14 June.

Two of the proposed options (options 1 and 2) reassign to Montgomery Knolls and Pinecrest the portion of Northwood-Four Corners neighborhood bounded by Eastwood and Colesville Road on the east, University Blvd. on the west, and Dennis Avenue (between University and Eastwood), in addition to various portions of South Four Corners and Sligo Woods.  The third option maintains all of the Northwood-Four Corners neighborhood within in the Forest Knolls area, while reassigning South Four Corners and most of Sligo Woods.

Maps and further details regarding these proposals are available at the MCPS planning website noted above.  The website includes an interactive map that can be used to examine individual addresses.

Northwood-Four Corners resident Jacquie Bokow, who grew up in the neighborhood, notes that, if part of our community is reassigned to another school, it would not be without precedent.  Bokow recalls that, when she was in elementary school, some neighborhood children attended Forest Knolls (including her now husband), while others (including herself) were assigned to Four Corners Elementary School that was located where The Oaks currently stands.  They both attended Sligo [then] Junior High, while neighborhood middle schoolers now attend Silver Spring International Middle School.

The next steps in the boundary study process are as follows.  Initially, a second set of options was to be released at meetings on May 20–21, but those meetings were cancelled as no further options had been developed.  Public information meetings will be held on 3 June at Forest Knolls (7:15 p.m.) and 5 June at Montgomery Knolls (7:00 p.m.) to discuss the remainder of the process.

Over the summer, MCPS planning staff will provide a boundary study report to the Superintendent.  The Superintendent will review the report and make a recommendation to the Board in October.  The Board will hold a hearing and make a final determination in November, which will be implemented in the 2020–2021 school year.  In addition to completing the online survey by 14 June, community members can provide input to the process by writing letters to the School Board and the Superintendent.  Letters should address the three priority factors listed above.

County-Wide Boundary Assessment

In January 2019, the MCPS School Board decided to hire an external consultant to undertake a county-wide review of school boundaries.  The School Board’s student member, Ananya Tadikonda, proposed the measure, noting that, “there are many schools in MCPS with adjacent boundaries that have both significant disparities in socioeconomic and racial demographics and disparities in facility utilization.”  Student groups have been advocating for this study in hopes that it will result in recommendations that may lessen the de facto segregation that currently exists in Montgomery County schools.

According to MCPS data, available at www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/ sharedaccountability/glance, the schools to which Northwood-Four Corners-Forest Knolls students are assigned are socioeconomically and racially diverse.  However, in other parts of Montgomery County, such as Bethesda and Potomac, this is not the case.  Many have noted a disparity in student achievement and resource allocation between schools where most of the student population is white and schools with a greater percentage of minority students.

The county-wide boundary assessment will not result in concrete recommendations for specific schools.  Rather, the external consultant will present findings to the School Board in Spring 2020, and the Board will then determine what next steps to pursue based on those findings.

[Spiegel lives on Margate Road.]   ■


   © 2019 NFCCA  [Source: https://nfcca.org/news/nn201906a.html]