Superintendent Recommends $1.818 Billion School Construction Plan
Superintendent Jack R. Smith is recommending a $1.818 billion six-year school construction plan for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), which includes 30 capacity projects to address space deficits systemwide. The Superintendent’s Recommended Fiscal Year (FY) 2019–2024 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) represents a $74 million increase over the current six-year CIP, which is needed to deal with the district’s rapid enrollment growth.
“We are confronted with the need to be both aggressive in addressing our significant school facilities needs and fiscally responsible within the County spending guidelines,” stated Smith. “This recommendation accomplishes both by addressing the most critical capacity and infrastructure project needs for Montgomery County Public Schools.”
For the 2017-2018 school year, enrollment is 161,936 students, a one-year increase of 2,926 students. Enrollment has increased by 24,191 students over the last 10 years.
Elementary School Level Projects
The six-year CIP recommendation includes three new elementary schools and four new elementary addition projects (Cresthaven, DuFief, Ronald McNair and Roscoe R. Nix elementary schools). Of the proposed new schools, two would be in the Clarksburg Cluster and one in the Richard Montgomery Cluster. These projects are in addition to 11 previously approved addition projects.
Middle School Level Projects
At the middle school level, the recommended CIP includes four previously approved and two new addition projects. The new additions would be at Parkland Middle School and Silver Spring International Middle School, both of which are overutilized. Silver Spring International has additional challenges that will be addressed as part of this project, including gymnasiums and locker rooms that are located in a separate building and down a steep hill, which impacts accessibility. Additionally, construction of the Purple Line will impact the school site and outdoor programmatic spaces at Silver Spring International. The recommendation also includes expanding the scope of the addition project at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School.
High School Level Projects
At the high school level, the recommendation includes two previously approved and two new addition projects. The new additions would be an expansion of Northwood High School to accommodate 2,700 students (a 1,200-seat increase) and an expansion at John F. Kennedy High School.
The recommendation also proposes the reopening of the former Charles W. Woodward High School to address the overutilization in both the Downcounty Consortium and the Walter Johnson Cluster. The recommendation also includes funding for a project to construct a new high school on the Crown site located in the City of Gaithersburg. This project will proactively address increasing space deficits at multiple mid-county high schools.
The Recommended FY 2019 Capital Budget and the FY 2019-2024 Capital Improvements Program will address systemwide needs by increasing our systemic projects, such as Roof Replacement and Planned Life-cycle Asset Replacement. Specifically, the recommendation includes a substantial increase of funds for upgrades and/or replacements of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems that are beyond their expected service life. There is a significant backlog of HVAC projects that directly affect students, teachers and administrators each school day.
The recommended CIP includes two new boundary studies. The first boundary study is to determine the service area for the new Clarksburg Cluster Elementary School (Clarksburg Village Site #2). The new elementary school will address overutilization at Wilson Wims and Cedar Grove elementary schools. The boundary study will begin in spring 2018, with Board action scheduled for November 2018. The second boundary study is to explore the reassignment of Clarksburg and Northwest high school students to Seneca Valley High School. As part of the boundary study, middle school articulation patterns in the Seneca Valley Cluster will be reviewed. Therefore, Roberto W. Clemente and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. middle schools also will participate in the boundary study process. The boundary study will begin in September 2018, with Board action anticipated in November 2019.
For FY 2019, the preliminary state aid request is $115.6 million. This figure is based on current eligibility of projects approved by the County Council in May 2017. Of this $115.6 million request, $52.1 million is the balance of construction funding for eight projects, $56.2 million is for construction funding or planning and construction funding for nine projects, and $7.3 million is for systemic roofing and HVAC projects.
“The Board of Education thanks Dr. Smith for his recommendations to address the capacity and infrastructure concerns of our growing school system,” said Michael A. Durso, president of the Board of Education. “My colleagues and I look forward to reviewing this CIP recommendation and hearing from our stakeholders in the coming weeks.”
The Board of Education is scheduled to hold a work session on Thursday, Nov. 2, to discuss the Capital Budget and CIP recommendations. Two public hearings are scheduled for Monday, Nov. 6 and Wednesday, Nov. 8. A second work session is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 14. A third public hearing will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16, should alternatives to the Superintendent’s Recommendation for Richard Montgomery Elementary School #5 Boundaries be offered on Tuesday, Nov. 14. The Board is scheduled to take action on the CIP on Monday, Nov. 27.