Superintendent Recommends New Site Selection Process for B-CC Middle School

November 8, 2011
Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr today (Nov. 8) outlined his recommended changes for a new site selection process for a future middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster. The new middle school is scheduled to open in August 2017.

“The site selection process for this school should be done in a transparent way that involves a wide array of stakeholders,” Dr. Starr said. “We know that there are not very many appropriate and available sites for a school. This is a complex problem and it will take the best thinking of our community to complete this work so that we can move forward with a plan to meet our students’ needs.” 
On April 28, 2011 the Board of Education acted to locate the new middle school at Rock Creek Hills Local Park, a site the Board has the right to reclaim from the current owner, the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).  The property was the previous location of Kensington Jr. High School that closed in 1979, and the property was subsequently transferred to the M-NCPPC in 1990 for use as a park.  Since the Board’s April vote, concerns have been raised about the site selection process and the Board’s ability to reclaim the park site.

On Nov. 2, Dr. Starr recommended that a new site selection process be conducted for the middle school but emphasized that it should not delay the construction of the new school. The new facility will help manage dramatic enrollment growth in the area and alleviate overcrowding at Westland Middle School. It will also allow for sixth-graders currently at North Chevy Chase and Chevy Chase elementary schools to move to a middle school.

In a memorandum to the Board of Education, Dr. Starr is recommending the Board rescind its April 28 vote and authorize a new site selection process. In the memo, Dr. Starr makes it clear that Rock Creek Hills Local Park is still a viable option as a site for the new school.

Dr. Starr is also seeking some changes to the site selection process. Among the changes:

•  The use of an external facilitator to manage the site selection meetings;
•  Outreach to all Site Selection Advisory Committee (SSAC) participants, in advance of the first meeting, to solicit site options;
•  The inclusion of homeowners’ association representatives on the SSAC ;
•  Allowing SSAC representatives to submit dissenting reports as part of the final report, if desired; 
•  A plan to release the SSAC report publicly if none of the recommended sites are private property.  The general public will be able to review the report and submit written comments in advance of Board action.

“The site selection process described in this memorandum is an improvement from current practice and provides more opportunity for public involvement in the process,” Dr. Starr wrote. “We also are expecting our fellow government agencies to be partners in selecting and supporting a middle school site that will serve our community well.”

The Board of Education will consider Dr. Starr’s recommendation on November 17.

Dr. Starr's Memo to the Board of Education (Nov. 8 2011)

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