Superintendent Recommends Capital Improvements Program

October 28, 2009
Rockville, Maryland—Nine Montgomery County public schools would be expanded and two new schools would be built under a six-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) recommendation that Superintendent Jerry D. Weast submitted to the Board of Education October 28.

Dr. Weast’s recommendation will help Montgomery County address overcrowding at many of the district’s schools, the result of significant enrollment growth over the past 10 years. Additionally, the CIP recommendation will allow the district to modernize many of its aging schools and reduce the backlog of critical repairs and upgrades to the district’s infrastructure, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement.

“The enrollment at Montgomery County Public Schools continues to grow very quickly and we expect that growth to continue in the years to come,” Dr. Weast said. “This CIP recommendation will help us better serve the students who are here now, as well as the students who are on our doorstep.”

Dr. Weast announced the CIP recommendation at Francis Scott Key Middle School in Silver Spring, which moved into a completely modernized facility this year. Key Middle School received Gold Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification for being a “green” building. Some of the green facets of the school include recycled construction materials, self-sustained landscaping, a geo-thermal exchange heating and cooling system, and water-saving bathroom fixtures.

“Key Middle School is a sterling example of the quality and efficiency of our capital building program,” Dr. Weast said.

The $1.49 billion Capital Improvements Program covers recommended projects for six years, FY 2011–2016. The plan includes a request for $253.2 million in expenditures for FY 2011, an increase of about 16 percent from previously approved allocations for next fiscal year. Dr. Weast said it is important that the district take advantage of today’s low construction costs.

“As the economy begins to recover, construction costs will eventually start to rise,” Dr. Weast said. “It is important that we capitalize on the current market so we can complete these much-needed projects quickly, efficiently and economically.”

Shirley Brandman, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, said the Board understands the need to balance the capital requirements of the district with the economic realities of today’s economy.

“We have both a tremendous need and a tremendous opportunity. With enrollment growing rapidly, we need to address our capacity needs and we agree that this is an opportune time to take advantage of lower construction costs,” Ms. Brandman said. “We will carefully review the superintendent’s recommendations with the ultimate goal of approving a plan that meets the needs of our children.”

Among the recommendations in the CIP:

- Expansion projects at Bradley Hills, Darnestown, Georgian Forest, Somerset, Viers Mill, Waters Landing, Westbrook, and Wyngate elementary schools and Clarksburg High School.
- Construction of a new elementary school and middle school in the Clarksburg Cluster.

- Infrastructure improvements at MCPS facilities, including roof replacements and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance efforts.

- Countywide heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement projects at several different district schools and facilities.

The CIP recommendation also calls for several schools to be modernized, as well as boundary and capacity studies for schools in different clusters around the county. You can see the entire CIP recommendation on the MCPS website,

Dr. Weast emphasized that all of the projects approved under previous CIPs are under way and on schedule, but the continued growth of the district must be met.

Preliminary enrollment for this school year is 141,650—an increase of more than 2,000 students over last year.

“Almost the entire increase in enrollment over the past two years has been at the elementary school level, where MCPS currently has the greatest capacity shortage,” Dr. Weast wrote in a letter to the Board of Education.

To meet the capacity shortage, the district is currently using 437 relocatable classrooms—88 percent of which are at elementary schools.

“While we recognize that some in our community may not think this is the best time to expand our capital budget, we all strongly believe that we cannot afford any more delays in providing our children with the learning environment they deserve,” Dr. Weast wrote to the Board.

The Board of Education is scheduled to hold a work session on Dr. Weast’s recommendation on November 5, and will hold public hearings on the plan November 11 and 12. The Board of Education is scheduled to take final action on these items on November 19. Once approved by the Board, the proposal will be submitted to the Montgomery County Executive and the County Council for consideration.

The development of the CIP recommendation was done in partnership with the associations that represent Montgomery County school employees and the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations (MCCPTA). Every item was thoroughly reviewed and analyzed before being included in the recommendation.

“I am grateful that our parents and our employee associations continue to be at the table with us as we lead the Montgomery County schools through this time of rapid growth,” Dr. Weast said. “Working together, we can continue to provide a world-class education to the outstanding students of Montgomery County.”

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