Update: Starr Recommends Middle School for Kensington Site
The project is expected to cost about $46.5 million.
Update, Saturday, 11:23 a.m.: Superintendent Joshua Starr's recommended layout for the middle school would have the same footprint as one of the preferred designs from the feasibility study, MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig said in an e-mail to Patch.
Starr and his staff decided to plan for 944 students to accomodate projected enrollment growth within the district, Tofig said, and the additional classrooms can be housed within the preferred layout.
The final feasibility study report, which would include schematics of the proposed school design, will be released soon, Tofig said.
Original post, Friday 6:30 p.m.: Superintendent Joshua Starr is recommending the new Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster middle school be built on Rock Creek Hills Park, a proposal that has been controversial among neighbors.
In his capital improvements program recommendations released today, Starr asks that the $46.5 million school open in August 2017, with design and construction starting in 2014.
Over the summer, Montgomery County Public Schools conducted a feasibility study for the proposed school, which resulted in two preferred layouts being sent to Starr.
We asked MCPS for details on the layout Starr is recommending but have yet to hear back as of 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
It appears that Starr has picked neither of the study's preferred options, however, as he recommends a school sized to serve 944 students, and the study's layouts were designed for 836. The district had scaled back the size of its proposed designs in response to neighbors' complaints that a 944-student school would do away with too much green space in the area.
Next, the Board of Education will hold a work session on Starr's recommendations on Nov. 2 and host public hearings Nov. 10 and 14. The board will then vote on whether to approve the projects Nov. 17. The County Council has finally say on capital improvements and will likely decide on the projects in the spring, according to Bruce Crispell, MCPS's director of long-range planning.
MCPS has faced criticism at every step of this process, beginning with the selection of the Rock Creek Hills site. Community members have accused the schools of ignoring transparency and failing to engage neighbors, and the state's Open Meetings Act Compliance Board ruled that MCPS violated the act during the site-selection process.
Rock Creek Hills resident Jim Pekar began an e-mail campaign last week, asking people to write to Starr and ask him to recommend MCPS find another site for the new school.
In an interview with Patch, Pekar said the park site is incapable of housing a facility that could compare with Westland Middle School.
"If you look at the Board of Education's criteria for middle school site assessment, Rock Creek Hills Park fails the overwhelming majority of the criteria," he said. "It’s not surprising that any school to be built on the site will be inadequate."
The Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association voted this month to continue its opposition to the school, and members have said they plan to testify before the Board of Education when it takes up the issue.
This story has been updated.