Debate to begin on school construction in overcrowded Montgomery

Montgomery school leaders are scheduled to examine a $1.55 billion plan for school construction and other capital improvements Thursday during the first of several public meetings to consider building projects in the fast-growing Maryland school district.

The school board will take up the issue at a work session this week and at public hearings next week following a proposed six-year plan offered Oct. 28 by Superintendent Joshua P. Starr.

Starr’s plan seeks to relieve overcrowding with the construction of five new schools and 22 school additions. But it also calls for the delay of 20 school revitalization projects — postponements that are likely to spur community concern.

Fifteen projects at elementary schools would be pushed back one year, and five projects at secondary schools would be put off two years. In many cases, so-called “revitalization” projects involve rebuilding a school from the ground up and adding capacity.

At a news conference in late October, Starr said that meeting the district’s capital needs would require a $2.2 billion plan and partly blamed funding shortages on state officials, saying they do not give the district its “fair share” of Maryland construction funding.

Two public hearings are scheduled for Nov. 11 and Nov. 14, with a school board vote Nov. 18. County officials will then consider the plan.

The proposed delays would affect elementary schools including:

Wayside, with a new completion date of Aug. 2017

Brown Station, with a new completion date of Aug. 2017

Wheaton Woods, with a new completion date of Aug. 2017

Potomac, with a new completion date of Jan. 2019

Luxmanor with a new completion date of Jan. 2019

Maryvale with a new completion date of Jan. 2019

Carl Sandburg Learning Center, with a new completion date of Aug. 2019

Belmont, with a new completion date of Aug. 2020

Cold Spring with a new completion date of Aug. 2020

DuFief, with a new completion date of Aug. 2020

Stonegate, with a new completion date of Aug. 2020

Damascus, with a new completion date of Jan. 2022

Rosemary Hills, with a new completion date of Jan 2022

Summit Hall, with a new completion date of Jan. 2022

Twinbrook, with a new completion date of Jan. 2022

Secondary school projects that would be delayed include:

William H. Farquhar Middle School, with a new completion date of Aug. 2018

Tilden Middle School, with a new completion date of Aug. 2021

Thomas S. Wootton High School, with a new completion date of Aug. 2022

Eastern Middle School, with a new completion date of Aug. 2023

Poolesville High School, with a new completion date of Aug. 2024

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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