Board of Education Approves $1.489 Billion Capital Improvements Request

November 17, 2011
Also Approves Boundary Changes for B-CC, Downcounty Consortium

The Montgomery County Board of Education approved a $1.489 billion
six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) request to fund construction projects that will allow the district to deal with its growing enrollment and upgrade and maintain its aging facilities.

The Board’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2013-1018 request includes several new school construction projects for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), including additions to six elementary schools and one middle school and the construction of three new schools. It also adds eight elementary schools to the schedule for future modernization. The request will now be sent to the County Executive and County Council for consideration. The Executive will release his recommended countywide capital budget in January and the Council will make final decisions next spring.

“The Board is confident that this six-year CIP request effectively balances our dramatic facility needs with the fiscal realities we are facing in our state and county,” said Christopher S. Barclay, president of the Board of Education. “Our enrollment is growing very rapidly and we must provide every student with a safe, accessible space to learn.”

Also, on Thursday, the Board:

-  Approved boundary changes to alleviate elementary school overutilization in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster;
-  Approved the superintendent's recommendation that a new site selection process be conducted for the location of a new middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Cluster;
-  Approved boundary changes to establish the service area for the opening of a new elementary school (Downcounty Consortium ES #29) in the McKenney Hills neighborhood of Silver Spring within the Downcounty Consortium.  

Capital Improvement Program

The Board’s $1.489 billion CIP request represents an increase of $129.7 million over the previously approved six-year plan. It includes $278.8 million in expenditures for FY 2013, an increase of $50 million over the FY 2013 expenditures approved in the previous CIP.

“The current economic situation has resulted in a significant decrease in construction costs, making this the right time to invest as much as we can in our facilities and infrastructure,” Mr. Barclay said.

The Board’s request is based on Superintendent Joshua Starr’s CIP recommendation released on October 28. Dr. Starr built his recommendation around six priority categories;

- Compliance with regulations;
- Capital maintenance to ensure MCPS buildings are safe, secure and comfortable;
- Capacity to meet enrollment demands;
- Modernizations that bring older facilities up to current education program standards;
- System infrastructure that allows support facilities to keep up with enrollment increases;
- Technology modernization to fund computers and other technology upgrades.

Enrollment in MCPS has risen to an all-time high of 146,497 students, an increase of nearly 9,000 students since 2007. Enrollment is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, rising to more than 156,000 students by 2017. Much of the enrollment growth is taking place in early grades, as evidenced by the fact that 90 percent of the district’s 350 portable classrooms are located at elementary schools.

The CIP request calls for seven new classroom addition projects at Arcola, Bethesda, Highland View, North Chevy Chase, Rosemary Hills and Wood Acres elementary schools and at Julius West Middle School. The CIP also recommends the construction of a new middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster and new elementary schools in the Northwest and Richard Montgomery clusters. The request also contains several new modernization projects that were selected based on the district’s most recent facilities needs assessment.

The new modernization projects, due for completion between 2018 and 2021, are for Cold Spring, Dufief, Belmont, Stonegate, Damascus, Twinbrook, Summit Hall and Rosemary Hills elementary schools. The Board also approved Dr. Starr’s recommendation for a modernization project
that would collocate Maryvale Elementary School and the Carl Sandburg Learning Center. The CIP request keeps several previously approved construction and modernization projects on schedule.

Dr. Starr’s recommendation to the Board of Education, released on October 28, called for a one-year delay of six secondary school modernization projects, as well as a one-year delay to the construction of a new middle school in the Clarksburg/Damascus area.

The Board amended the superintendent’s recommendation to keep one of those modernizations—Wheaton High School/Thomas Edison School of Technology—on schedule. In exchange,  the Board reduced $4 million in future funds to replace Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems in MCPS facilities, funding for a Transportation Depot project was delayed for two years, and the renovation of the Broome facility for use as a middle school holding facility was delayed two years.  

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Elementary School Boundaries

The Board approved boundary changes for four schools in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster, which has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years. The four schools are Rosemary Hills Elementary (grades K-2), Bethesda Elementary (grades K-5), Chevy Chase Elementary (grades 3-6) and North Chevy Chase Elementary (grades 3-6).

The Boundary changes do the following:

- Reassign the East Bethesda community from Rosemary Hills Elementary to Bethesda Elementary School for Grades K–2. Students would continue to attend Bethesda Elementary through grade 5.
- Reassign the Paddington Square Apartments community and the area occupied by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from Bethesda Elementary School to North Chevy Chase Elementary School for Grades 3–6. Both of these areas would remain assigned to Rosemary Hills Elementary School for Grades K–2.
- Reassign the portion of the Summit Hills apartments with addresses 1703 and 1705 East West Highway from North Chevy Chase Elementary School to Chevy Chase Elementary School for Grades 3–6. These apartments would remain assigned to Rosemary Hills Elementary School for Grades K-2.

The CIP also calls for classroom additions at Bethesda, North Chevy Chase and Rosemary Hills elementary schools. 

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School Site Selection

The Board unanimously approved Dr. Starr’s recommendation to conduct a new site selection process for a future middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster.

On April 28, 2011 the Board of Education acted to locate the new middle school at Rock Creek Hills Local Park, a site the Board has the right to reclaim from the current owner, the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).  The property was the previous location of Kensington Jr. High School that closed in 1979, and the property was subsequently transferred to the M-NCPPC in 1990 for use as a park. 

Since the Board’s April vote, concerns have been raised about the site selection process and the Board’s ability to reclaim the park site.

On Nov. 2,
Dr. Starr recommended that a new site selection process be conducted for the middle school but emphasized that it should not delay the construction of the new school. The new facility will help manage dramatic enrollment growth in the area and alleviate overcrowding at Westland Middle School. It will also allow for sixth-graders currently at North Chevy Chase and Chevy Chase elementary schools to move to a middle school.

The new site selection process will include the following changes from the previous process:

•  The use of an external facilitator to manage the site selection meetings;
•  Outreach to all Site Selection Advisory Committee (SSAC) participants, in advance of the first meeting, to solicit site options;
•  The inclusion of homeowners’ association representatives on the SSAC ;
•  Allowing SSAC representatives to submit dissenting reports as part of the final report, if desired; 
•  A plan to release the SSAC report publicly if none of the recommended sites are private property.  The general public will be able to review the report and submit written comments in advance of Board action.

Boundary Recommendation for new Silver Spring Elementary School

In August, a new Downcounty Consortium Elementary School  (#29) will open in Silver Spring on the former McKenney Hills school site. The new elementary school will allow MCPS to relieve crowding at Oakland Terrace Elementary School.
These boundary changes will also will require additional boundary changes for two Downcounty Consortium middle schools—Sligo and Newport Mill.

The following areas be moved from Oakland Terrace Elementary School to the new school, beginning in August 2012 for grades K-4:

- The area south of Dennis Avenue, east of Georgia Avenue, north of I-495, and west of Renfrew Road.
- The area south of Dennis Avenue, west of Georgia Avenue, north of I-495, and east of Brunswick Avenue, including the McKenney Hills Local Park and the Downcounty Consortium Elementary School #29 school site. Dr. Starr is also recommending that students in this area be reassigned from Newport Mill Middle School to Sligo Middle School beginning with grade 6 in 2014-2015.

FY 2013-2018 Capital Improvement Program Website

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