Parents, educators and activists packed the Montgomery County School Board meeting. They wanted to speak out against a proposal that would consolidate several central office buildings. The measure, proposed by Superintendent Barbara Thompson, would consolidate the Central Office, the Annex building, Bellinger Hill, the Fairwest building and the Professional Services Center. But some say after this consolidation, will come the consolidation of several Montgomery Public Schools.
"The superintendent made the statement that this is a possibility for us taking the children from one school to another," says former educator and community activist KT Brown. "She said we need to pass the consolidation of the central offices before we can get started on the consolidation of the schools."
The consolidation of the central offices did pass. The board approved the plan amid shouts of disagreement from those in the crowd. Board Member Robert Porterfield was one of two who voted against the measure, saying he's against leasing a new facility to consolidate the five buildings.
"The thing that I object about the consolidation of the central office would be the lease," says Porterfield. "The leasing of the property when we already own property. Some of the property that we own, it's already been stated that we can have use for a central office."
However there were some, including the board's Vice President Heather Sellers, who say the the central office consolidation will save the board money in the long run.
"We wouldn't have as much overhead of keeping five buildings or more and we would be able to consolidate and not have that many water bills and light bills, etcetera," says Sellers.
We did ask School Board President Eleanor Dawkins if the consolidation of central offices would next lead to the consolidation of schools, as some people believe.
"We have to do it step by step," says Dawkins. "As far as we know, we think things will work out for us to be doing good things for our children. That's what our goal is. That's always our goal."
Still, others worry that school consolidation could be next and could cause problems.
"I certainly hope we don't get to that point in terms of bringing Carver and Lanier together," says Porterfield. "That would be detrimental."
"You've got people in these different schools that do not want anybody to come on their turf therefore what we are having now in the city with 21 homicides, what do you expect if you put these children together?" asks Brown.