Board of Education Names New Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School; Holds Work Session on Tri-cluster Roundtable Discussion Group

March 22, 2016

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Monday, March 21, 2016, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. The Board selected a name for a new Clarksburg/Damascus middle school; held a work session on the recommendations concerning the Tri-cluster Roundtable Discussion Group for the Gaithersburg, Col. Zadok Magruder, and Thomas S. Wootton clusters; and authorized the interim superintendent of schools to submit to the County Council a list of reductions to bring the MCPS Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Operating Budget within the Council’s Spending Affordability Guidelines.  The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website. You also can watch the video of the meeting by clicking here.

Naming of Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School

The Board voted unanimously to name a new middle school for the Clarksburg/Damascus area after Hallie Wells. The naming process for the school began in February with the Board of Education suggesting the following four names:  Dr. Alan Cheung, Mr. James H. Daugherty, Mr. Michael Doran, and Dr. Paul Vance. The Board asked the School Naming Advisory Committee to consider those names, as well as look at other suggestions from the community. The committee was chaired by Dr. Barbara Woodward, the principal of the new school, and included community members and parents of students who will attend the school. The School Naming Advisory Committee recommended three names, with Hallie Wells Middle School as the top choice. Other names considered by the committee were John Clark Middle School and James Daugherty Middle School. Although the recommendation of the committee is taken very seriously, the final decision rests with the Board of Education. Hallie Wells Middle School will open in August 2016.   

Read the Board Memorandum

Work Session on the Recommendations Concerning the Tri-cluster Roundtable Discussion Group

The Board of Education discussed the interim superintendent’s recommendations for the Tri-cluster Roundtable Discussion Group to address school capacity issues in the Gaithersburg Cluster elementary schools. Mr. Larry A. Bowers’ recommendations include constructing an addition to Gaithersburg Elementary School and dividing the new space into two schools (a Grades pre-K–2 school and a Grades 3–5 school). The Board of Education authorized a Tri-cluster Roundtable Discussion Group process on November 16, 2015. The group focused on ways to address projected overutilization at four Gaithersburg Cluster elementary schools—Gaithersburg, Rosemont, Strawberry Knoll and Summit Hall. The group took a broad look at school enrollments, utilization levels, and facility options in the Gaithersburg, Col. Zadok Magruder, and Thomas S. Wootton clusters and explored approaches to distribute some of the enrollment growth in the three clusters.

The roundtable met from January to March and included representatives from each of the three clusters.

The Board received an overview on the Roundtable and input received during the process. As part of the review, the Board unanimously adopted an alternative to the interim superintendent’s recommendation for Gaithersburg Elementary School.  The alternative proposes that the Gaithersburg Elementary School remain as one school serving Pre-K through Grade 5 and managed by one principal administration, with a feasibility study to be conducted beginning July 2016 to explore various options to add necessary classrooms and support spaces to increase the capacity of the school to approximately 1,000 students.  In addition, the alternative provides that the planning and construction phases follow the feasibility study, utilizing the funds allocated for Gaithersburg Cluster elementary school capacity solution included in the Board of Education Requested FY 2017 Capital Budget and FY 2017-2022 Capital Improvements Program. 

The Board will hold a public hearing on the recommendations on April 12, 2016, and is expected to make a final decision on the recommendations on April 19, 2016.  Sign up for the hearing will begin on Tuesday, March 22.  (Add link to public participation page containing information about the sign up process.)

Read the Memorandum to the Board

Read the Press Release

Public Participation Page

Spending Affordability Guidelines

The Board authorized Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers to submit a letter to the Montgomery County Council that outlines a list of reductions that would bring the MCPS FY 2017 Operating Budget within the Spending Affordability Guidelines (SAG). According to Montgomery County Code §20-63, any agency requesting more funding in an operating budget than the County Council’s SAG allocation for a given year must submit to the County Council a list of reductions that would bring the budget within the County Council’s SAG allocation. The Board’s FY 2017 requested tax-supported operating budget of $2,355.9 million exceeds the County Council’s SAG allocation of $2,225.0 million by $130.9 million.

The letter to the Council will outline recent history of funding as well as reductions the district has had to make since FY 2009, and it will reiterate the belief that MCPS cannot continue to make reductions, and that the investment in education for students must be increased in order for MCPS to close the achievement gap and ensure that all students have opportunities to succeed.

Read the Memorandum to the Board

Facilities and School Construction

The Board approved the following items related to school construction projects and facilities:


The Board approved the following resolutions:

Future Meetings

The Board will hold its next regular business meeting on Tuesday, April 19. Please check the Board of Education meeting calendar for further information


About the Board of Education
The Montgomery County Board of Education is the official educational policymaking body in the county. The Board is responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system. The Board consists of seven county residents elected by voters for a four-year term and a student elected by secondary school students for a one-year term. Board members are elected countywide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside.

Montgomery County Board of Education: Mr. Michael Durso, president; Dr. Judith Docca, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Mr. Philip Kauffman, Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, Ms. Jill Ortman-Fouse, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, and Mr. Eric Guerci, student member. Mr. Larry A. Bowers, interim superintendent of schools and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.


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