Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guest Post: Outrage at tearing down of school buildings

I live in Potomac, MD. I witnessed Cabin John Middle School being torn down and replaced by a fabulous building. I called the School Board and was told that schools are periodically torn down and particularly now because the unemployment rate is high. That outraged me more because it seems that massive construction is being done just for the sake of bringing down the unemployment rate even though there is no real necessity. I then asked the person if this was the county’s way of spending money on education? 
I now see that Hoover Middle school is being torn down. I called the County Council and the District 15 office and spoke to Ms Daphne Bloomberg to get some answers but no satisfactory one was given. I even contacted State Senator, Mr. Garagiola’s office and was told there is nothing he can do about it. Surely tax payer dollars can be put to better use to further education. Maryland operates in the ‘RED’, our infrastructure needs repairs, so it is inconceivable and obscene to see this massive and ridiculous waste of tax payer’s money. I was even told that there were many more schools scheduled to be torn down. 
My reason for writing to you [the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD] is to find out if there are others who share my outrage and if this can be stopped. I believe in the power of the people. I urge you to call the County Council, Roger Berliner at 240-777-7900, and the school board at 301-279-3617 or the Superintendent at 301-279-3383 and express your outrage and STOP this waste of our resources. 
Meher Desai


  1. i don't share the outrage. some of these schools have lead in their water, asbestos in their ceilings, and 1/3 to 1/2 of the students are being taught in portable classrooms which are covered in black mold. it's not like any of these demos and build ups are spontaneous - they are planned years in advance and are in the budget. the budget which was approved unread by our school board. if you have a gripe, go gripe to the board when the budget is on the agenda.

  2. I do not share outrage either. I am outraged that many of these schools have been delayed (e.g. Wheaton High School). With all due respect, read a little before popping off at your representatives. The county has been on a modernization program for quite a while now. My alma mater was one of the first (Walt Whitman) which if memory serves me correct was 1992 or 1993. Many schools have serious structural problems and fixing them is throwing bad money after good. I don't know what Cabin John's issue is nor Hoover's nor do I know why someone at the Board would give you such a flippant answer as "schools are periodically torn down and particularly now because the unemployment rate is high". Sounds like you talked to a clerk that has no clue what is going on.

  3. Name a serious structural problem...

    What these schools suffered from was complete lack of maintenance. That's not a reason to tear down a brick and mortar building.

    A clerk? That's how you term Board of Education staff. If they don't know what is going on then who does?

  4. When my kids started at Magruder High School -- and I saw the inside of the school for the first time -- I was appalled. When I asked the former, long time principal, Dr. David Steinberg, why there was so much deferred maintenance, he responded only that it was because of a shortage of funding. The FACT score for Magruder even put the school on the renovation list. (Steinberg was later promoted to a largely invisible position within MCPS, and it's not clear what he does at this point.)

    Fast forward a couple of years and assistant principal Leroy Evans became principal and a new school business manager was hired. Under Principal Evans and the new business manager, the auditorium was renovated (all new seats, carpeting, and paint), countless broken lights throughout the school were fixed, thousands of square feet of broken concrete were replaced, broken outdoor trashcans were replaced, a few benches were installed in front of the school for students who were waiting to be picked up after evening activities (this was funded by the PTSA), the entire HVAC system in the gym was cleaned and eventually replaced because of a mildew problem that had gone on for over a decade, asbestos floor tiles were removed and replaced with safe tiles, "no smoking" signs were installed at entrances as required by county law, the parking lot was restriped, the restrooms were renovated, the drama storage rooms were renovated, the asbestos wiring on the stage lights was removed, the walkways were power washed, and I don't even remember what else. This all took about five years.

    Magruder's effective age is now probably something like 5 years, which is pretty good considering that the school was built in 1970. The school looks terrific inside and outside. The total cost of the renovations and repairs that I listed above was probably under $2 million (most of the cost was the auditorium and the HVAC replacement). That's quite a bargain for the taxpayers, especially if you compare it to the alternative, which would have been to demolish and rebuild Magruder in around 2020 at a cost of around $100 million dollars (in today's dollars).


If your comment does not appear in 24 hours, please send your comment directly to our e-mail address at