Montgomery County school officials and Potomac residents heard proposals last week from eight organizations that have applied to rent space in Tuckerman Elementary School.
The school, which was closed in June, is one of six the school board voted last winter to close because of declining enrollments. The school system has retained 6,000 square feet in the school for its own use; 25,000 square feet will be available for lease. The school system now has administrative offices in the school and plans to open an adult education program there as well.
The prospective tenants at Tuckerman are:
The county Department of Recreation, which would like to move its programs for the Potomac area to Tuckerman.
The McLean School, a private school with 165 students in grades one through nine. The school is located at Seven Locks Road and Democracy Boulevard, but it must move by the end of this month because the site is being sold. Dell Foster, the owner and former president of the school, is selling the land to the The Heights School, a private school for children in grades 7 through 12, according to Gary May, board chairman of the McLean trustees.
Potomac Craftsmen, Inc., a craftmen's guild which also offers courses to the public.
The Rockville Society of Model Engineers, a club for model railroaders.
A county health care program for adolescent mothers and their infants.
The Mater Amoris Montessori School, with 125 students.
The Metropolitan Board of Jewish Education, which would use the building for offices.
An occupational therapist, who works with children.
Montgomery County has had surplus schools since they began closing schools because of declining enrollment in 1973. Under state law, the county school board is required to transfer surplus buildings to the county if the building is not to be used for education or education-related purposes. Most surplus schools have been turned over to the county. However, in the case of Tuckerman, the school system can retain the building because at least part of it will be used for education purposes.
The remainder of the building will be leased only after the school board considers whether the new tenants will conduct activities that are compatable with the neighborhood. In addition, the school board will consider long-term tenancy, benefits to the school system, rental price (the school system does not want to go below $3.30 per square foot) and the community's wishes, said Francis Carey, assistant to the director for school facilities.
The community's wishes already have eliminated one prospective tenant - a special county school where students with problems, such as discipline or attendance, would be placed temporarily.
"There was enough sentiment against it such that it would compromise the success of the program and the community would not be receptive," said Carey.
The 35 residents at the meeting last week quizzed applicants on expected traffic that would be created by their proposals, their willingness to stay at Tuckerman for a long time and their activities.
"The McLean School is local and I've heard wonderful things about them," said one Potomac resident after the meeting. "But I'd love to see something interesting and exciting - like the recreation department."
The recreation department representative, Trudye Johnson, said the department could bring a variety of dance classes, gymnastics, arts and crafts classes and senior citizen activites to Tuckerman. The department would charge fees for the programs, she said.
The only other tenant that would bring activities to the community would be the craftsmen's guild, which offers a few small classes in some "fiber arts" (hand-weaving, spinning, dying), according to the guild's representative, Doramay Keasby.
Carey told the residents he will review comments residents have sent on the proposals. He said the school system may approve more than one tenant, since some of the applicants did not want all the available space.
Carey said he would contact residents before a final decision is made, which is expected this month. The final decision must be approved by Superintendent Charles M.Bernardo.