Superintendent Releases Boundary and Facility Recommendations
Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith released recommendations on Oct. 13 to address school boundaries, capacity, and facility issues throughout the district. The three recommendations are supplements to the superintendent’s proposed amendments to the current six-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for MCPS. The remaining amendments will be sent to the Board of Education on Oct. 27.
Members of the community will have an opportunity to give feedback on the CIP amendments during the Board of Education’s public hearings on November 10 and 14.
The three recommendations that Dr. Smith released are:
- The new attendance zones for Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School #2, which will open in August 2017, and Westland Middle School;
- Options to address the current short- and long-term projected space deficits in the elementary, middle, and high schools in the Walter Johnson Cluster; and
- The relocation of Alternative Education Programs at the Blair G. Ewing Center to the Rock Terrace school site
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School #2 and Westland Middle School Boundaries
A new middle school—currently known as Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC) Middle School #2—will open in August 2017 and is primarily needed to address enrollment growth in the cluster. On November 16, 2015, the Board of Education authorized a boundary study to establish the service area for the new B-CC Middle School #2 and associated changes to the service area of Westland Middle School. The scope of the boundary study included the elementary schools in the B-CC cluster that now articulate to Westland Middle School. In accordance with Board of Education policy, a Boundary Advisory Committee was created to review options for the new school’s attendance zone and Westland Middle School. The committee reviewed 10 possible options for the service area. No elementary or high school boundary changes were considered in the process. Superintendent Smith is recommending the following as the boundaries for the two schools:
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School #2:
- The paired schools of Chevy Chase, North Chevy Chase, and Rosemary Hills elementary schools
- Rock Creek Forest Elementary School (excluding the Spanish Immersion Program students)
Westland Middle School
- Bethesda Elementary School
- Somerset Elementary School
- Westbrook Elementary School
- Spanish Immersion Program students continuing from the Rock Creek Forest Elementary School program
Under the superintendent’s recommendation, students who attend Rock Creek Forest Elementary School for the Spanish Immersion Program and articulate to Westland Middle School for the Spanish Immersion Program will continue in this pattern. The reassignments would begin with Grades 6 and 7 in August 2017, followed by Grades 6–8 in August 2018.
Walter Johnson Cluster Schools
On November 16, 2015, the Board of Education approved the Walter Johnson Cluster Roundtable Discussion Group to develop and explore general approaches to address the current, short- and long-term projected space deficits in the elementary, middle, and high schools in the Walter Johnson Cluster.
Since 2007, enrollment in the Walter Johnson cluster has increased by 1,316 students in elementary schools, 523 students in middle schools, and 389 student in high school. With new developments planned for the area—including White Flint 1 and 2 and Rock Spring—this growth is expected to continue in the years to come.
After consideration of the work and input from the roundtable discussion group and feedback received from the community, Superintendent Smith is recommending that the Board of Education adopt the following course of action for the schools in the Walter Johnson Cluster:
- Reduce the approved addition project for Ashburton Elementary School, which is scheduled for completion in August 2019, from 881 seats to 770 seats; relocate Ashburton’s special education Preschool Education Program (PEP) classes to Bradley Hills and Luxmanor elementary schools beginning in the 2017–2018 school year; and construct a modular classroom addition to open in August 2019 that will be relocated in the future after a new school opens.
- Monitor the enrollment at Farmland Elementary School and consider the reassignment of students to Luxmanor Elementary School beginning in the 2020–2021 school year after completion of the revitalization/expansion project.
- Utilize space in the annex facility adjacent to Garrett Park Elementary School to address the capacity deficit at the school.
- Monitor enrollment in the cluster elementary schools and open a new school in the long term when the capacity deficit can support the need for the new school.
- Proceed with the plans for an addition at North Bethesda Middle School, which is scheduled to open in August 2018.
- Continue with the plans to revitalize/expand Tilden Middle School (and collocation with Rock Terrace School).
- Convene a roundtable discussion group to include representatives from the Downcounty Consortium high schools and Walter Johnson High School to study the following:
- Reopening the former Woodward High School to address the space deficits at Montgomery Blair, Albert Einstein, Walter Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and Northwood high schools; and
- Exploring the possibility of using commercial properties to address space deficits at these high schools, as well as countywide, by offering alternative programmatic and career technology education options to high school students.
Planning and construction funds will be included for the high school solution as part of the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2019–2024 Capital Improvements Program in October 2017.
Relocation of Alternative Education Programs at the Blair G. Ewing Center
Superintendent Smith is recommending that Alternative Education Programs be relocated to the Rock Terrace School site in January 2022. In order for this project to be completed on schedule, a feasibility study will be conducted during the 2017–2018 school year to determine the scope of the project, and planning and design funds will be requested in Fiscal Year 2019 as part of the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2019–2024 Capital Improvements Program.
A new Alternative Education Programs model was redesigned in 2014 to provide students with personalized learning plans, innovative pathways for learning, and expanded social emotional services. To support the redesigned program, the Board of Education directed staff to explore several studies for Alternative Education Programs to ensure that the redesigned program provides specific supports and interventions to meet the needs of a unique student population so they achieve success.