Superintendent Makes Recommendations on Modernizations of Wheaton High School, Thomas Edison High School of Technology and William H. Farquhar Middle School

September 1, 2011

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr has released his recommendations for two capital improvement projects—the modernizations of Wheaton High School and Thomas Edison High School of Technology, and William H. Farquhar Middle School. Both projects are slated for review and action by the Montgomery County Board of Education at its regular business meeting on September 13, 2011.

Dr. Starr is recommending that the Board approve construction of two separate buildings for the modernizations of Wheaton and Edison.  The two schools—which currently share a single, aging building—would have distinct school identities through the construction of separate buildings that are located in a campus-like setting. Wheaton is a comprehensive high school; Edison offers career and technical courses to high school students from around MCPS.

For the modernization of Farquhar Middle School, Dr. Starr is asking the Board to approve a “land swap” that would allow a new middle school building to be built on property adjacent to the current school site. Under this option, students would remain in the current facility during construction of a new building and would not have to be temporarily relocated to the Tilden Holding Center, which has been the usual procedure when a middle school is demolished to make room for a replacement facility. This option also includes construction of a three-story facility that will result in a smaller building footprint and a more efficient building.

Dr. Starr’s recommendations follow an extensive public planning and review process for Wheaton, Edison and Farquhar, and reflect the preferences of parents and community members who made up the Facility Advisory Committees (FACs) for the modernization projects.

Wheaton High School and Edison High School of Technology

A feasibility study conducted on the Wheaton and Edison modernizations last spring considered two main options: constructing two separate buildings or constructing one building that would provide for distinct school identities through the creation of separate entrances. The FAC strongly favored the two-building option.

“This option ensures that each school maintains a clear identity,” Dr. Starr wrote in his recommendation to the Board. “In addition, this option makes a complex phasing process less difficult and will result in fewer disturbances to school operations during the construction phase.” 

Preliminary cost estimates show that the two-building option will also cost less. Because of the need to phase construction, the entire project for both facilities will take approximately five years to finish. Completion is scheduled for August 2018.

Farquhar Middle School

The modernization of Farquhar Middle School is scheduled for construction during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years, with completion in August 2015.  Under Dr. Starr’s recommendation, Farquhar students and staff would remain in the current facility while the new building is under construction on adjacent property that is currently owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) for use as a future park. The Montgomery County Department of Parks is willing to consider a “land swap” of their property for the property that is the current location of Farquhar, where a future park could be located.

The “land swap” option is contingent on support from M-NCPPC. If M-NCPPC does not agree to the swap, Dr. Starr is recommending a back-up plan that would relocate students to the Tilden Holding Center during the time of construction.

Recommendation on Wheaton and Edison modernizations

Recommendation on Farquhar modernization

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