November 19, 2012
The Montgomery County Board of Education approved amendments to the district’s Capital Improvements Program (CIP) that will help plan for future growth in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), while addressing important infrastructure needs for existing schools.
The Board’s amendments add $14.2 million in projects to the approved $1.35 billion CIP for Fiscal Years (FY) 2013-2018. Most of the additional funds would be used for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) replacement ($11.5 million) and upgrades to important building assets, such as fire alarms and public address systems; water and sewer systems; floors, ceilings, windows, and doors ($2.5 million).
The Board also approved Superintendent Joshua P. Starr’s request for a comprehensive capacity study of 12 elementary schools in the Downcounty Consortium; a study to establish boundaries for a new Clarksburg elementary school; and a roundtable discussion group to look into the “unpairing” of New Hampshire Estates and Oak View elementary schools.
“These amendments to the CIP will allow us to make sure our existing schools are safe, comfortable and conducive to learning and, also, plan for continued growth throughout the county,” said Board President Shirley Brandman. “We deeply appreciate the strong support the county has shown for the growing capital needs of MCPS.”
Every two years, the county approves a six-year CIP, which includes school construction and infrastructure projects. In off years, such as this one, only amendments to the adopted CIP are considered.
The Board’s request will now be submitted to the County Executive and the County Council for consideration.
There are 148,779 students attending MCPS this year, an increase of 11,000 students since 2007. By 2018, enrollment is expected to be near 160,000 students.
In order to address this growth, the FY 2013-2018 CIP includes planning and construction funds for six new elementary school addition projects, a middle school addition, as well as funding for a new elementary school and middle school. It also maintains the completion dates of elementary school modernization projects, but delays most middle and high school projects for two years. The amendments do not change this schedule.
Downcounty Consortium Capacity Study
The capacity study will include 12 of the 29 elementary schools in the Downcounty Consortium: Arcola, Brookhaven, Forest Knolls, Georgian Forest, Glenallan, Glen Haven, Harmony Hills, Highland, Kemp Mill, Sargent Shriver, Weller Road and Wheaton Woods. Projected space shortages are expected to be most severe at four of these schools—Arcola, Forest Knolls, Harmony Hills, and Sargent Shriver. Three other schools—Glen Haven, Highland, and Kemp Mill—are expected to have less severe space shortages.
The study would start in January 2013 and would compare the costs for different options, including classroom additions at seven of the 12 schools versus the construction of a new school. Community input would be an important part of the process and would include:
- A community-wide meeting to discuss the scope of the project and the process for providing input;
- Two community meetings at each of the seven schools being considered for additions;
- A second community-wide meeting to present all options and gather feedback from the public.
Once the study is complete, it will be used to determine what capital projects should be included in the CIP for FY 2015-2020.
Read Dr. Starr’s Memo to the Board on the DCC Capacity Study
New Hampshire Estates and Oak View Elementary Schools
Currently, New Hampshire Estates (grades PreK-2) and Oak View (grades 3-5) elementary schools draw students from the same attendance zone. In recent years, there has been discussion about “unpairing” the two schools and creating two PreK-5 schools with separate attendance zones. A roundtable discussion group in the spring will review the impact of unpairing the two schools. The group will include representatives from the Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) at both schools and will send a report to Dr. Starr and the Board.
Clarksburg Elementary School Boundary Study
A new school in the Clarksburg Village area will open in August 2014 and will help address crowding at Cedar Grove and Little Bennett elementary schools. Representatives from those two schools will participate in the boundary study discussions. The boundary study will be conducted in the spring of 2013 with Board of Education action expected in November 2013.