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Site Recommendation for New B-CC Middle School Heads Back to Board of Education

The board will hear a committee's recommendation on a proposed site for the new middle school April 28.

The Montgomery County Board of Education is expected to hear a recommendation on a proposed location for a new middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster April 28. A site selection committee has recommended the Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Local Park site for the proposed new school.

The board postponed hearing the recommendation at its March 28 meeting.

A proposal for the new school was set forth Oct. 15 by schools superintendent Jerry Weast as part of a to combat overcrowding in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster. Once a site is selected, a feasibility study to hash out options for constructing the new school will follow.

the only middle school that now serves students in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster, is already at capacity with close to 1,000 students and is expected to become overcrowded in coming years as enrollment numbers rise. The school is also located a long distance from many Chevy Chase neighborhoods.

In the interim period before the new middle school is built, how best to educate sixth graders at Chevy Chase and North Chevy Chase elementary schools has been a The two schools are the in elementary school settings, and sixth grade students there receive less instruction time and less class offerings than students who attend sixth grade at Westland.

The proposed new middle school is geared to encompass Chevy Chase sixth-graders.

The site selection committee was comprised of county officials, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and Montgomery County Public Schools staff, Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations  members, and officials from the Town of Chevy Chase, the Town of Somerset and the Village of Friendship Heights. The group evaluated ten site possibilities and expressed a preference for a site in the central or eastern portion of the cluster, since Westland is located towards the cluster’s extreme western end. Other criteria evaluated for the sites included physical condition, accessibility, availability and cost, along with meeting LEED environmental criteria when possible.

In recommending the Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Local Park  – a site on the Silver Spring/Chevy Chase border that houses the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Center – the group noted that it provided a good geographical balance to Westland and is walkable from several residential communities. The middle school could be “co-located” with the existing community center on the site, the group suggested. “The Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Local Park site offers the best range of site characteristics including access, cost, availability, location, and consistency with LEED criteria,” the committee report read.

Read the committee’s full report here. The Board of Education’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 6p.m. April 28 at the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville, and the middle school site recommendation agenda item is slated for 7:30  Directions and information about watching the meeting online or on TV is available on the Board of Education’s website.

Valarie April 20, 2011 at 01:38 AM
The site selection process was deeply flawed, and the final report omits key data the Board of Education would need to make an educated decision on the 28th. More thoughtful analyses show that this site in fact meets few if any of the required criteria for a suitable school location. The advisory committee inconsistently applied site selection criteria to produce the selection of Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Park as the recommended site. Also, the communities bordering the park were left out of the site selection process. Representatives of several towns and municipalities in Bethesda and Chevy Chase were invited to participate in the process, but no one from the town of Silver Spring was invited. This process should go back to the drawing board. Valarie in Rosemary Hills
Jonathan Foley April 20, 2011 at 02:00 AM
I am writing to register my strong opposition to the placement of the new middle school in the Rosemary Hills Lyttonsville Local Park. This park is heavily used by residents of the neighborhoods surrounding it for tennis, soccer, walking, baseball, basketball, and other recreation. Almost 7 acres of the 17 acre parcel was purchased with Program Open Space funds for the express purpose of promoting recreational use by area residents. The middle school will add traffic and noise to neighborhoods that are already affected by East West Highway traffic on the south and an industrial park and the future Purple line to the north. The community impact was not considered in the site selection process and the community was certainly not consulted. The committee needs to revisit their decision. Jon from Rosemary Hills
Susan April 20, 2011 at 02:23 AM
I am very concerned about MCPS leasing out 20 acres of school-owned land in wealthy Potomac for soccer fields while displacing this small neighborhood park for a middle school in working-class Rosemary Hills. In the current economic climate, taxpayers should demand that the Board of Education use existing school-owned land with usable buildings before taking away public parkland from a densely populated neighborhood already surrounded by development.
Lisa G. April 20, 2011 at 03:19 AM
I am the parent of a child who attends the crowded Westland MS. I am also among a group of deeply concerned residents of the Silver Spring neighborhood that is faced with the prospect of losing our beloved park to new school construction. I echo the sentiments expressed by Valarie, Jonathan, and Susan. The threatened park is the HEART of this community. It is the ONLY ‘back yard’ for those who reside in the many apartments bordering it and the park is actively used. School enrollments rise and fall – as we can see by all the schools that have been given up for lease by MCPS. In coming years when the enrollment drops, what will happen to this middle school that a park was sacrificed for? Is the answer to keep walking away from old schools and building new ones – and along the way losing what small parcels of green space still exist - especially in moderate neighborhoods that need them so desperately? Is that good long-term planning? Is that the best way to spend taxpayers’ money? Is that RIGHT? The negative impact on this community that would come with the loss of the park - and alternatives - must be considered. Lisa G. Silver Spring
David Marx April 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM
I ask the Board and those involved in this process to consider the impact to the surrounding communities. Our park- the Rosemary Hils/ Lyttonsville Park – is an urban oasis for our residents. Our yards are small as one would expect in an urban neighborhood. We don’t have 20 acre soccer fields that one might find in Potomac. Ours is a multi-purpose park that serves a densely populated and largely minority community in a myriad of ways. The County should be proud of this park, not threatening to pull it out from under the residents. Rosemary Hills, Lyttonvsille and Rock Creek Forest represent a unique area. It is truly a ’diverse’ area with a broad range of demographics by any definition- age, race, cultures, incomes, home owners and renters, longtime county residents and recent immigrants. The housing is diverse as well with a mix of affordable homes and apartments surrounding this 17 acre park and community center. These neighborhoods walk the walk of diversity and mutual respect that Montgomery County preaches. This is a community that should celebrated. And it should be protected from those who dismiss it when putting forth their own agendas. Putting a school in our park would tear a hole in our community.
David Marx April 20, 2011 at 11:21 AM
I ask the Board and those involved in this process to consider the impact to the surrounding communities. Our park- the Rosemary Hils/ Lyttonsville Park – is an urban oasis for our residents. Our yards are small as one would expect in an urban neighborhood. We don’t have 20 acre soccer fields that one might find in Potomac. Ours is a multi-purpose park that serves a densely populated and largely minority community in a myriad of ways. The County should be proud of this park, not threatening to pull it out from under the residents. Rosemary Hills, Lyttonvsille and Rock Creek Forest represent a unique area. It is truly a ’diverse’ area with a broad range of demographics by any definition- age, race, cultures, incomes, home owners and renters, longtime county residents and recent immigrants. The housing is diverse as well with a mix of affordable homes and apartments surrounding this 17 acre park and community center. These neighborhoods walk the walk of diversity and mutual respect that Montgomery County preaches. This is a community that should celebrated. And it should be protected from those who dismiss it when putting forth their own agendas. Putting a school in our park would tear a hole in our community. Mark M Silver Spring 20910
lena April 20, 2011 at 11:28 AM
I have to agree with the comments above. I have talked to many people in the surrounding communities and the reaction has been incredulity to anger at the thought of the selection committee making this decision without a single thought to the impact on the lives of the people who actually live here and use the park daily. The health of our community is imperiled by the thoughtless actions of a few. I urge the Board or Education to go back to the drawing board and consider community impact as part of their crietria. Leonor Rosemary Hills
Jean Redmond April 20, 2011 at 03:06 PM
I agree with all of the comments above. The Site Selection process was faulty, no one from our three communities was invited to be on the Committee, and the thousands--yes, thousands--of residents that live directly on or next to the park in this congested area in 4 large apartment complexes, would lose their only green space. We are already bordered by East-West Highway, the Brookville Rd. Industrial Park, the ride-on bus depot, Washington Suburban Sanitation, and the coming Purple Line and planned station ALL within a block or two of the park. Without green space, our already unhealthy air will become unbearable. This cannot happen. In addition, this location is not centrally located: one of the requirements of the selection committee. Our economically less fortunate, racially, and ethnically diverse student population would be segregated from the rest of the BCC cluster. The Gwendolyn Coffield Center serves our entire community. It cannot dissappear. If you subtract the acreage the Coffield Center is on, and the approximate 6 to 7 acres of Open Space Land, you are left with under 10 acres of land--far below the 20 required. Investigation and testimony to the existance of WWII bunkers and munitions storage smack dab in the middle of the park is under way. Save the Park! Protect our Community!
sharon April 20, 2011 at 09:14 PM
I strongly agree with ALL the above comments. Strange and troubling that the site selection committee did not have any representatives from the Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville neighborhoods. As someone who grew up in the Rock Creek Forest neighborhood I can personally attest to the horrible long term planning of MCPS. Back in the 70's I attended Montgomery Hills Junior High for two years, then when it was closed was sent to Leland Junior High. Within the span of 8 years all three down county Middle/Junior High schools were closed: Montgomery Hills, Leland & Kensington-what were they thinking that no more children would need Middle schools in this whole down county area? My daughter attends Westland and it is a far commute from our neighborhood but the ease with which MCPS is willing and eager to take away a neighborhood park rather then revisit the former Middle School/Public school sites is troubling. Why the secrecy when it comes to this area? The process needs to be transparent.
L Paine April 22, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Why was the Rosemary Hills local park selected? The report does not tell you (unless you read between the lines). It fails to draw logical conclusions drawn against clear, consistent standards based upon substantive data. It is uneven in its analysis of the various proposed sites. If the Board goes forward, it will be jumping right into spending a large sum of money to study the site resulting from this superficial "selection" process and has a good chance in the end of finding out it just studied the wrong site. An appropriate seletion process would avoid this. At Rosemary Hills local part, there are factors involving the land that may significantly delay building on the site. Like one other proposed site, the navy base realignment may cause a large increase in traffic, which, combined with the school traffic, may overload the one road to the site. So, toss access as a factor in favor of Rosemary Hills localpark. The WSSC facility, rr tradks and other aspects of the immediate vicinity were considered not conducive to education for another proposed site that is on the other side of the WSSC facility -- why are they not conducive to education for Rosemary Hills? It isn't. So, toss location as a factor in favor of Rosemark Hills local park. continued in next comment
L Paine April 22, 2011 at 08:24 PM
The size of the plot of land in the Rosemary Hills local park is not simply 19 acres as the report claims. It is three different plotes controlled by three different entities, one of whom is not planning on giving their plot up for the school. So toss the land size as a factor in favor of Rosemark Hill local park. And finally, it is the only recreational, "green" space accessible to the community that surrounded by public and industrial facilities and commerce and rr tracks and four lane highways and primary school. Yet there are other proposed sites with far more appeaing surroundings, sites that would be good for the kids in the Rosemary Hills and surrounding neighborhoods and the other kids going to the new middle school.

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