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$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  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 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 , 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.

Renee Sklarew November 02, 2011 at 03:04 PM
While building improvements are important (and I know they are separate budgets), I hope the Board remembers the value students gain from occasionally leaving the classroom for interactive, real experiences found only in field trips. I've heard that Tilden's 8th graders have lost every one of their annual field trips for calendar year 2011-2012.
Jerry November 02, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Just how much are the taxpayers going to stand before we have a long overdue property tax revolt in Montgomery County? Do we really need new school construction? Just take a look at my alma mater Montgomery Blair to find your answer. The original campus, beautifully situated on Sligo Creek and resembling a small college, was abandoned. A new building costing the taxpayers tens of millions was built only a couple of miles away at the busy (and dangerous for pedestrians) intersection of University Boulevard and Colesville Road. In addition to costing the taxpayers construction costs, imponderable revenue has been lost from the commercial property that the new building now occupies. There was nothing wrong with the old Montgomery Blair. It was built in the same year as the present BCC High School and to the same building codes. Why hasn't BCC been similarly abandoned and rebuilt elsewhere? My guess is that some greedy developer sold the idea of relocating Blair to the County Council, and that the same sort of scandalously expensive thought process is going on today.
jag November 02, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Uh, Jerry, the old Blair high school is now used by Silver Spring International Middle School. You're pretending like the site was forsaken or something. The county has grown - it's entirely logical that the Wayne Ave. location (not even the original location of Silver Spring's high school - i wonder if your grandfathered whined about the move to Wayne Ave?) would be outgrown after a few generations.

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