ROCKVILLE, MD - The Montgomery County Council today approved the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy's purchase of its Aspen Hill site from the county. The Berman Hebrew Academy's more than 700 students, parents, teachers, staff, Board of Directors and alumni are proud that 14 years after leasing the former Peary High School property from Montgomery County, the school is one step closer to exercising its right to purchase, originally laid out in the 1996 lease.
The Council vote was 8-1, with Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Mike Knapp, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Duchy Trachtenberg, Council President Nancy Floreen, and Council Vice-President Valerie Ervin, voting in favor of the purchase. The favorable vote came after the Montgomery County Planning Board voted to recommend support for purchase at its November 18 meeting, many community advocates provided testimony in favor of the purchase at a November 23 County Council public hearing, and the Planning Board and the Education and Management and Fiscal Policy Committees voted to support the purchase at a joint meeting November 29.
"On behalf of the entire Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy family, I want to thank those Council members who voted to support our right to buy," said Daphna Raskas, President of the Berman Hebrew Academy's Board. "I also want to extend our deep gratitude toward Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, who has been instrumental in helping us finalize an agreement that is beneficial to our school, our friends and neighbors in Aspen Hill, and the entire Montgomery County community, as well as toward Diane Schwartz Jones, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer in the County Executive's office. We are now one significant step closer to finally being able to truly call this wonderful place our home."
County Executive Leggett shared the following in support of the Berman Hebrew Academy's purchase, "I am pleased that the County Council has given the Berman Hebrew Academy's interest in buying its school the time and attention it deserves. The Council has come to the right conclusion in this matter. By voting in favor of the purchase, the County is adhering to a contractual obligation it made years ago, expressing gratitude for the exceptional renovation work the Berman Hebrew Academy invested, which positively impacted an entire neighborhood, and allowing the county to benefit from both an influx of funds and continued use of the school's recreational facilities."
The Berman Hebrew Academy also thanks the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington for its assistance. "We greatly appreciate the help of the Jewish Community Relations Council," said Larry Stern, the school's past president of the board. "Nobody from outside the school worked harder, and we're deeply grateful for its staff's insights and support from the start."