Montgomery County School Superintendent Wilmer Cody yesterday proposed construction of two new elementary schools and a high school in the burgeoning Germantown-Gaithersburg area as part a $90.4 million capital improvements request for next school year.
Last year, the County Council approved a $23 million capital budget for the schools.
Of the proposed $90.4 million building program, County Executive Charles Gilchrist said, "I guess we will be recommending significant reductions or a phasing in" of the building program.
Cody's building program also calls for eight additional elementary schools and an additional high school to be built in the northwestern part of the county over the next six years. The entire program of new school construction and school renovations would cost about $430 million over the next six years.
The six-year plan calls for a construction boom unparalleled since the 1950s and '60s when most of the area south of the Beltway was developed, school officials said.
The new schools are needed because of a real estate and development boom in the Germantown-Gaithersburg area that has caused school enrollments to skyrocket and has severely overcrowded some existing schools, school officials said.
The planned communities in that area are attracting younger families with small children who are flooding the local elementary schools. The children have come to be called the second "baby boomers."
"The magnitude of this budget request is due in large part to the . . . explosive population growth throughout the county," Cody said in his budget request, "particularly in the upcounty areas, and the aging of the existing large inventory of schools."
Elementary school enrollment in the Germantown-Gaithersburg area will climb from about 18,000 this year to nearly 25,000 by 1991, according to the budget documents, while secondary school enrollment is expected to jump from about15,000 to almost 17,000 by 1991.
And some elementary schools in the Seneca Valley area are already overcrowded, with the situation expected to worsen over the next six years.
Lake Seneca Elementary, a new school in the Germantown area, has a room for 736 students, but 885 are enrolled this school year.
The school is expected to have 2,240 students by the year 1990, according to school officials' projections.
Fox Chapel Elementary School, also in Germantown, has room for 708 students, but is expected to have 1,196 students by 1990.
Cody also asked for planning money for two new elementary schools in the Germantown-Gaithersburg area -- Montgomery Village/Laytonsville and North Germantown -- and for a new administrative office in that area.
The administrative offices for area 3, which includes Germantown-Gaithersburg, are now housed in an elementary school there.
Cody's capital improvement request first must be approved by the Board of Education, then forwarded to the county executive who can modify it before passing it along to the County Council for final approval.
The system's operating budget is to be considered by the school board later this year and the council is to take final action on it by May 15.
Last year, the state funded $6.4 million of the $23 million school construction budget.
This year, Cody said, Montgomery County will probably receive about $5.6 million in state money.
The two elementary schools and new high school will cost about $33 million to build.
Cody asked for $19.5 million for a new high school in the area but did not indicate whether Watkins Mill or Quince Orchard, both now on the drawing board, would be built first.
Most of the rest of the $90.4 million would be used for renovations and additions of existing schools, many of them in the older East Silver Spring -- Takoma Park area.
George Fischer, director of planning for the school system, said plans to build several schools for the Germantown-Gaitherburg area in the mid-70s were scrapped because of an economic downturn.
But when the economy started to pick up again in the 1981 and 1982 and interest rates started to fall, the county foud it had underestimated the pace of growth, he said.
Dorothy Parise, president of the PTA at Martin Luther King Junior High School in Germantown, said the County Council has done a poor job of planning for the growth in the Germantown-Gaithersburg area.
"They should have considered the need for schools before allowing all this building to take place," she said.
"You don't buy a herd of cattle and then build a barn."