New Middle School Site Selection Starts Tonight
After the last process sparked controversy, a new group will consider where to build the school.
When Montgomery County Public Schools chose Rock Creek Hills Park as the site for a new middle school, neighbors and some public officials questioned the district's transparency and community involvement.
Now, following a November recommendation from Superintendent Joshua Starr, MCPS is restarting the process, and the new site-selection committee meets tonight (Jan. 11) at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
Over the course of four meetings, the committee will consider all of the sites proposed last year, including Rock Creek Hills Park, and any additional locations suggested by committee members. After the last meeting, the group will make a recommendation to the Board of Education.
At tonight's meeting, the committee may go into closed session for the discussion of MCPS possibly purchasing private property for the school site, which schools spokesman Dana Tofig said falls in line with state law.
School officials have said that the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster needs a new school to relieve overcrowding at Westland Middle and to accommodate MCPS's projected enrollment growth over the next decade.
The last time MCPS conducted this process, neighbors complained that the district ignored their opinions and mishandled the site selection, and a state board determined that MCPS violated the Open Meetings Act in its proceedings.
MCPS also hosted summer-long feasibility study meetings on the proposed school, selecting preferred layouts to recommend to the board. Starr included $46.5 million for the construction of the school in his 2013-18 capital improvements request.
From the start, Starr has said that MCPS needs to open a new B-CC cluster middle school by 2017, and he said restarting the site-selection will not delay that goal.
The site-selection advisory committee will meet again Jan. 25, Feb. 8 and Feb. 22 at the same place and time.