School Board Backs off English Manor as Option for Alternative Education Program



The Montgomery County School Board stopped short of ordering a feasibility study on the former English Manor Elementary School as a possible location for the county’s Alternative Education Program Tuesday, instead opening up the options to about a dozen county sites and commercial facilities.

The board did vote to go ahead with a revised feasibility study for renovations of the Blair G. Ewing Center site where the program currently operates.

Just a few months ago the school board seemed prepared to weigh two options- the Ewing Center or English Manor in Rockville- for the program that has about 125 students enrolled in it. In fact, it was a decision by the Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee to require the school board to rethink these two options that put it back in the laps of school board members. The Education Committee ordered MCPS to consider other options, however Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers this week again suggested English Manor and Blair Ewing as the two best choices.

Tuesday, the school board did not agree.

They voted to require MCPS staff to evaluate about a dozen sites owned by MCPS for the program as well as consider relocating the program within a commercial property. After the evaluation is completed, the board said that site should then be the basis of a feasibility study in addition to the feasibility study at the Blair Ewing Center.

Boardmember Christopher Barclay and Student Member of the Board Dahlia Huh were the only dissenting votes.

“There is a can in the road and we are kicking and kicking and kicking,” Barclay said about taking the additional time it will take to conduct the evaluations.

Bowers warned the delay in conducting the feasibility studies could result in a delay in the eventual construction of the project. The project already has about $16 million in the fiscal year 2015 budget. Feasibility studies take between four to nine months to complete, according to MCPS Department of Facilities Management James Song.

MCPS’ initial proposal was to take the AEP from the Ewing property and renovate the English Manor building- to the tune of about $16 million- to accommodate the programming. English Manor is currently leased as a independent grades 4-12 school called School for Tomorrow. That lease expires in June. The English Manor school sits on an 8-acre site, as opposed to the more than 20-acre property where the Ewing school is located. Not dependent on the move of the AEP but certainly linked would be the MCPS proposal to relocate the school system’s bus depot from Crabbs Branch Way to the Ewing site. The school system is required by the county to vacate the Crabbs Branch location by 2017.

After the vote the community group SaveBlairEwing announced they plan to drop an appeal the group filed with the State Board of Education in the case.

“We are encouraged by the steps the Montgomery County Board of Education took this morning. Good planning requires complete information and public involvement, and things appear to be moving in that direction,” the group’s organizer Jamison Adcock wrote to MyMCMedia.

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Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.


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