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Capital Budget Request Lays Groundwork for Future Growth | Schools

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Capital Budget Request Lays Groundwork for Future Growth
Schools

Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast is proposing only minor adjustments to the current Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for Fiscal Year 2012, including $6.5 million to replace aging heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in facilities across the district.


   However, Dr. Weast’s recommendation lays the foundation for future construction in areas of Montgomery County that are experiencing dramatic enrollment growth, including Rockville, Germantown and Bethesda-Chevy Chase. Every two years, the county approves a six-year Capital Improvements Program, which includes school facilities and infrastructure. In off years, such as FY 2012, only amendments to the adopted CIP are considered.


   “The Board of Education and the County Council showed strong support for our students last year by approving a Capital Improvements Program that allows us to keep up with our rapid growth,” Dr. Weast said. “In this amendment year, I am asking that we keep up with basic maintenance and replacement of our infrastructure, while laying the groundwork to help us deal with future enrollment increases.”


  In May, the County Council adopted a $1.386 billion CIP for Fiscal Years 2011-2016. The adopted CIP includes funding for the planning and construction of additions at eight elementary schools and one high school. The CIP also funds a new elementary school and middle school in the Clarksburg area. For Fiscal Year 2012, Dr. Weast is proposing $8.64 million in amendments for infrastructure replacements.


    MCPS is the 16th largest school district in the nation and has added approximately 6,500 students over the past three school years. The current enrollment is over 144,000 students and is expected to grow by another 10,000 students by 2016. 


   Dr. Weast said the Montgomery County community has continued to commit significant resources to school construction and infrastructure improvements. However, he said the state must provide Montgomery County with its fair share of funding for school construction.


   “Capital improvements are a partnership, and it is more important than ever that the state of Maryland provide Montgomery County with the funds it needs to keep up with our dramatic growth,” Dr. Weast said.


   The Board of Education will hold a work session on the CIP recommendation on Nov. 4 and will hold public hearings on Wednesday, Nov. 10 and Thursday, Nov. 11. The Board of Education is expected to submit its CIP request to the County Council and County Executive on Nov. 18. The Council will take a final vote on the CIP in May 2011. Dr. Weast’s recommendations include: 

Richard Montgomery Cluster
   In Rockville, the Richard Montgomery cluster has seen dramatic growth and all four elementary schools—Beall, College Gardens, Ritchie Park and Twinbrook—are over capacity. The cluster’s only middle school, Julius West, is projected to be 300 students over capacity by 2016.


   Studies are already being done at Beall, Ritchie Park and Twinbrook elementary schools to determine if additional classroom space is feasible. In addition, Dr. Weast is now recommending:
   - A feasibility study for an expansion to Julius West Middle School.
   - A feasibility study for the construction of a new elementary school at the site of the former Hungerford Park Elementary School on West Edmonston Drive.
   - The eventual re-location of the district-wide Chinese Immersion Program from College Gardens Elementary to the new elementary school. The program’s 150 students would remain at College Gardens until the new school opened.
   Any recommendations for new school construction will be considered as part of the CIP for FY 2013-2018, which will be submitted next year.

Northwest Cluster 
   Studies have already been approved to determine the best option for relieving crowding at Spark M. Matsunaga and Great Seneca Creek elementary schools, which are both over capacity. The options being studied include rebuilding Germantown Elementary School, adding to Great Seneca Creek or building a new elementary school in the Northwest cluster.


   Dr. Weast is recommending that in the coming months, a committee be formed to choose an appropriate site for a possible new elementary school. In the spring, a study will be done to determine the scope and cost of a new elementary school at the selected site, should that be the option chosen. A final recommendation on how to relieve crowding at area elementary schools will be considered as part of the FY 2013-1018 CIP.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Cluster
    Earlier this month, Dr. Weast released his recommendations to alleviate crowding in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster. The main part of the recommendation calls for a committee to select a location for a new middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and a study to determine the cost and scope of a new middle school.


   The new middle school will allow the sixth-grade classes currently housed at North Chevy Chase and Chevy Chase elementary schools to attend a middle school. The new school will also provide relief to Westland Middle School, which is expected to be 250 students over capacity by 2016.

Other Recommendations
   Also, as part of the amended CIP, Dr. Weast is recommending:
   - A boundary study for the new elementary school to be located in the McKenney Hills area, which will open in August 2012. The students for this school would come from Oakland Terrrace  and Woodlin elementary schools.
   - A change in policy that allows students in the Poolesville cluster to transfer to Monocacy Elementary School at any point during their elementary school years. This would help address the continued low enrollment at Monocacy.

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