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New School Site Selection Angering Many In Montgomery County

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The beginning of the problem dates back about 30 years, to a time when the number of students was declining, says James Sung of Montgomery County Public Schools.

"Back in the early and mid-'80s, we closed approximately 50 schools because of the downtrend in student enrollment," he says. "We pretty much surplussed all those properties to the county, which many of them became parks."

Some of those parks are now slated to have schools built right back on top of them. Rock Creek Hills Park in Kensington is one of them, but the decision to build a new middle school there has infuriated many neighbors.

Some, including Shannon Hamm, believe the park is too small to build a school that will give students the same education provided at the middle school that currently serves the area: Westland Middle School.

"If a school was opened at that site in 2015, it would be inadequate from day one," Hamm says.

Council members have expressed their disappointment that parks are being removed, and that school officials didn't include more public input in their decisions.

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