The Montgomery County Board of Education approved amendments to the district’s six-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) on November 21 that will help plan for future growth in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), while addressing capacity and facility issues throughout the district.
The Board approved a Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget appropriation request totaling $411.7 million and an Amended Fiscal Year 2017–2022 Capital Improvements Program request totaling $1.729 billion. The Board’s amendments include expenditure shifts for five projects, two new boundary studies and one site selection study. The Board added $150,000 to Superintendent Jack R. Smith’s recommendation to fund a feasibility study to reopen the former Woodward High School to address the space deficits at several Downcounty Consortium high schools as well as Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Walter Johnson and Walt Whitman high schools.
The Board set new boundaries for Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School #2 and Westland Middle School; approved Dr. Smith’s request for a feasibility study for the relocation of the Alternative Education Programs; and approved several recommendations to address the current short- and long-term projected space deficits in the elementary, middle, and high schools in the Walter Johnson Cluster.
“These amendments to the CIP will allow us to plan for continued growth throughout the county,” said Board President Michael Durso. “We deeply appreciate the strong support the county has shown for the growing capital needs of MCPS.”
Superintendent Jack R. Smith submitted his recommended CIP amendments to the Board on October 27. The Board held a work session and two public hearings on Dr. Smith’s recommendation before taking final action on Monday.
Every two years, the county approves a six-year CIP, which includes school construction and infrastructure projects. In off years, such as FY 2018, only amendments to the adopted CIP are considered.
MCPS is experiencing its ninth straight year of significant enrollment growth. There are 159,022 students attending MCPS this year, an increase of 21,277 students since 2007. By 2022, enrollment is expected to reach 168,480 students.
The Board’s request will now be submitted to the County Executive and the County Council for consideration.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School #2 and Westland Middle School Boundaries
A new middle school—currently known as Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) Middle School #2—will open in August 2017 and is primarily needed to address enrollment growth in the cluster. On November 16, 2015, the Board of Education authorized a boundary study to establish the service area for the new B-CC Middle School #2 and associated changes to the service area of Westland Middle School. The scope of the boundary study included the elementary schools in the B-CC cluster that now articulate to Westland Middle School. In accordance with Board of Education policy, a Boundary Advisory Committee was created to review options for the new school’s attendance zone and Westland Middle School. The committee reviewed 10 possible options for the service area. The Board selected Option 7 and set the following as the boundaries for the two schools:
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School #2:
- The paired schools of Chevy Chase, North Chevy Chase, and Rosemary Hills elementary schools
- Rock Creek Forest Elementary School (excluding the Spanish Immersion Program students)
Westland Middle School:
- Bethesda Elementary School
- Somerset Elementary School
- Westbrook Elementary School
- Spanish Immersion Program students continuing from the Rock Creek Forest Elementary School program
Students who attend Rock Creek Forest Elementary School for the Spanish Immersion Program and articulate to Westland Middle School for the Spanish Immersion Program will continue in this pattern.
The reassignments would begin with Grades 6 and 7 in August 2017, followed by Grades 6–8 from August 2018.
Walter Johnson Cluster Schools
On November 16, 2015, the Board of Education approved the Walter Johnson Cluster Roundtable Discussion Group to develop and explore general approaches to address the current, short- and long-term projected space deficits in the elementary, middle, and high schools in the Walter Johnson Cluster.
Since 2007, enrollment in the Walter Johnson cluster has increased by 1,316 students in elementary schools, 523 students in middle schools, and 389 student in high school. With new developments planned for the area—including White Flint 1 and 2 and Rock Spring—this growth is expected to continue in the years to come.
After consideration of the work and input from the roundtable discussion group and feedback received from the community, The Board of Education has adopted the following course of action for the schools in the Walter Johnson Cluster:
- The addition project for Ashburton Elementary School, which is scheduled for completion in August 2019, will be reduced from 881 seats to 770 seats and a modular classroom addition will be constructed to open in August 2019. The modular classroom will be relocated in the future after a new school opens. MCPS will conduct further analysis of the fiscal and physical implications of moving the Preschool Education Program (PEP) from Ashburton and will report back to the Board of Education.
- Enrollment at Farmland Elementary School will be monitored and if the space deficit continues to remain at high levels, student reassignments will be considered to Luxmanor Elementary School one year prior to the completion of the revitalization/expansion project which is scheduled to be completed in January 2020.
- Prior to moving forward with a plan to use the Garrett Park annex as a solution for space deficits at Garrett Park Elementary School, the district will meet with the Montgomery County Child Care Association, the Garrett Park Town Council, and the PTA to discuss the overcrowding and possible solutions.
- Enrollment in the Walter Johnson cluster elementary schools will be monitored to determine the timing for opening a new school in the long term and a preliminary growth management study will be conducted for the elementary schools this year and that various options for potential sites will be presented to the Board of Education so that an elementary school site selection process can be considered for the next full CIP year.
- The North Bethesda Middle School addition project will continue as approved with a capacity for 1,229 seats to address space deficits at the school. The addition is scheduled to open in August 2018.
- Request funds for FY 2018 to begin the site work for the Tilden Middle School/Rock Terrace School revitalization/expansion project, maintain the approved completion date a capacity of 1,200 seats.
- A study will be convened and will include representatives from the Downcounty Consortium high schools, as well as Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman and Bethesda-Chevy Chase high schools to evaluate the following:
o How the reopening of the former Woodward High School can address the space deficits at Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Montgomery Blair, Albert Einstein, Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman, John F. Kennedy, and Northwood high schools; and
o The possibility of using commercial properties to address space deficits at these high schools, as well as countywide, by offering alternative programmatic and career technology education options to high school students.
Planning and construction funds will be considered for the high school solution as part of the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2019–2024 Capital Improvements Program in October 2017.
The Board approved the following boundary studies:
- A boundary study to determine the service area for Richard Montgomery Elementary School #5. The boundary study will explore options to reassign students from College Gardens, Beall, Ritchie Park, and Twinbrook elementary schools to the new elementary school. The boundary study also will explore options to reassign the Chinese Immersion Program currently located at College Gardens Elementary School to another elementary school in the Richard Montgomery Cluster. The boundary study will occur in spring 2017 with Board of Education action in November 2017.
- A boundary study to explore the possibility to reassign the area of Highland Elementary School that is currently assigned to Sligo Middle School to Newport Mill Middle School. The boundary study will occur in winter 2016/17 with Board of Education action in spring 2017.
In addition, the Board approved the superintendent’s recommendation:
- That identified the scope of the Unity Area boundary study to be limited to the evaluation of the reassignment of Unity area students from Laytonsville Elementary School, Gaithersburg Middle School and Gaithersburg High School to Greenwood Elementary school, Rosa M. Parks Middle School, and Sherwood High School. The boundary study is scheduled for the 2016–2017 school year.
- That identified the scope of the Shady Grove Sector Plan boundary study to reassign the portions of the Shady Grove Sector Plan located east of Interstate 370 in the Washington Grove Elementary School, Forest Oak Middle School, and Gaithersburg High School attendance areas to the Col. Zadok Magruder Cluster schools. The boundary study will occur in spring 2017 with Board of Education action in fall 2017.
Relocation of Alternative Education Programs at the Blair G. Ewing Center
The Board approved Superintendent Smith’s recommendation that the Alternative Education Programs be relocated to the Rock Terrace School site in January 2022. In order for this project to be completed on schedule, a feasibility study will be conducted during the 2017–2018 school year to determine the scope of the project, and planning and design funds will be requested in Fiscal Year 2019 as part of the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2019–2024 Capital Improvements Program.
Site Selection Study
The Board approved a site selection study in the Clarksburg Cluster to identify the location for a new elementary school to address the continued enrollment growth in the cluster. The site selection study will occur in spring 2017 with Board of Education action in November 2017.
The Board approved expenditure shifts for the following projects: the Tilden Middle School/Rock Terrace School revitalization/expansion project; the Blair G. Ewing Center Relocation project; and three “placeholder” projects—Albert Einstein Cluster High School Solution, Northwood Cluster High School Solution, and Walter Johnson Cluster High School Solution.
Capital Improvements Program