$1.4 Billion in Capital Improvements Proposed by Superintendent for MCPS
The report addresses overcrowding issues in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster of schools.
A newly released capital improvement report calls for $1.4 billion in updates to Montgomery County schools over the next six years.
The improvements are designed to ease the impact of the nearly 9,000 students expected to be added by 2017 and ensure that current students are being taught in quality school buildings, according to the report released Friday by Superintendent Joshua P. Starr.
The report notes that current construction costs of $217 per square foot compared to previous levels of $280 make now a prudent time to update facilities.
“It is conceivable that when the construction market returns,” reads the report, “We may pay up to thirty percent more per square foot for construction than we pay currently.”
Overcrowding is of particular concern in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster of schools, according to the report. The BCC cluster is the only one in Montgomery County that is over 105 percent capacity at its elementary, middle and high schools.
As a result sweeping capital improvements are taking place in the cluster. A new middle school is being planned at the current location of Rock Hills Park for an August 2017 opening. The estimated 900-student capacity new middle school will significantly ease the crowding at Westland Middle School. If necessary, some students may be transferred from Thomas W. Pyle Middle School to Westland after the new middle school is built to ease the overcrowding at Pyle, according to the report.
Most of the elementary schools—Bethesda Elementary, Chevy Chase Elementary, North Chevy Chase Elementary, Rock Creek Forest Elementary, Rosemary Hills Primary and Westbrook Elementary—are expected to undergo either modernization or classroom addition construction by 2015, according to the report.
Projects already approved in the cluster include classroom additions at Westbrook, a modernization project at Rock Creek Forest Elementary and new gymnasiums at Westbrook and North Chevy Chase.
Starr recommended an eight-classroom addition at Bethesda Elementary School, a six-classroom addition at North Chevy Chase Elementary School and a six-classroom addition at Rosemary Hills Primary in Silver Spring.
Starr has also recommended a controversial boundary redistricting to ease crowding at some of the Bethesda area elementary schools. This was mentioned in the report as non-capital improvements.
The report also notes the expectation that the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School will exceed capacity by 500 students after six years. The plan is to appropriate funds in 2012 to determine the feasibility and cost of adding an addition to the high school and then address the issue in a future capital improvements plan.
The Board of Education will hold a work session tonight, November 2, to discuss the boundary changes as well as the Superintendent's capital improvement plan.
Capital improvements are funded mainly from four types of revenue sources—county General Obligation (GO) bonds, state aid, current revenue as well as recordation and school impact taxes, according to the report.