Enrollment surges in the Downcounty Consortium have prompted Montgomery County Public Schools officials to approve a school capacity study that would avoid future overcrowding.

Twelve schools will be involved in the study, but Montgomery County education officials project space shortages will be most severe at Arcola, Forest Knolls, Harmony Hills and Sargent Shriver elementary schools in the mid-section of the Downcounty Consortium.

The four schools combined are expected to exceed capacity by more than 660 students by the 2018-19 school year. The other schools that will be part of the study include, Brookhaven, Highland, Weller Road, Wheaton Woods, Georgian Forest, Glenallan, Glen Haven and Kemp Mill elementary schools.

The study, slated to begin in January, will determine if classroom additions or the construction of a new school would be the best way to address the space crunch.

The Board of Education approved the study earlier this month as part of the school system’s capital improvement plan for fiscal years 2013-2018.

“Resolving space shortages at elementary schools in the midsection of the [Downcounty Consortium] will be a complex undertaking,” according to a report to the board. “ It is evident that solutions to the space shortages at these schools could result in the need to adjust school boundaries when additional capacity becomes available.”

District officials, however, note that boundary changes would not occur until space opened up to accommodate moving students.

Read the report here.