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Superintendent Says Wims & Cedar Grove ES Students Should Attend New Middle School

October 16, 2015

The new Clarksburg/ Damascus Middle School which is scheduled to be opened in August 2016 will be populated by students currently attending Wilson Wims Elementary School and Cedar Grove Elementary School, based on the recommendation of Montgomery County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers.

   Bowers released his recommendation on Thursday after reviewing the Boundary Advisory Committee reports.

   “I am recommending the service area of the new Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School consist of the Cedar Grove and Wilson Wims elementary schools service areas,” wrote Bowers in his recommendation. “This recommendation corresponds to the Boundary Advisory Committee Option #1. This boundary recommendation enables students residing closest to the new school to be assigned there, and results in the new middle school and Rocky Hill Middle School being within their capacities.”

   The Board of Education authorized a boundary study to be done to establish the service area for the new Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School in November of 2014. The new school will be located at 11701 Little Seneca Parkway in Clarksburg.

   Based on the amount of enrollment growth in the Clarksburg Cluster and the repeated adjustment of boundaries as new schools have opened, it is understandable that the committee favored boundary options that would be long lasting and accommodate future enrollment increases. The committee also favored boundaries that would maximize walking access to schools and minimize length of transp01tation times and distances. The seven options reviewed by the committee provided a wide range of approaches.

   Bowers recommends that students be reassigned to the new Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School from Cedar Grove and Wilson Wims elementary schools service beginning with Grades 6-7 in August 2016, followed by Grades 6-8 from August 2017 onward.

   The recommendation, if approved by the Board of Education, would mean that sixth grader students in the service area currently attending Rocky Hill Middle School will be seventh graders are the new school and the first class to be promoted from the new Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School.

    The recommendation would also mean that fifth grade students currently attending Wims and Cedar Grove elementary schools would be the first class to attend Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School for all three years of middle school.

   “My recommendation of Option # 1,” wrote Bowers, “will achieve the relief needed for Rocky Hill Middle School while not over-utilizing Clarksburg/Damascus Middle School. In addition, my recommendation enables communities closest to the new school to be assigned to the school and avoids longer distance assignments that were explored and rejected by the committee. Finally, my recommendation provides for long-term stability in middle school assignments.”

   By recommending this option, Bowers is tabling another option in which students from Stedwick Elementary School, who currently attend Neelsville Middle School in Germantown, would attend Montgomery Village Middle School. Bowers said that he was supportive of the idea of ending the split articulation of Stedwick ES, but did not recommend such action due to its impact on Montgomery Village Middle School.

   However, Bowers did say that new enrollment projections for Neelsville Middle School are lower than last year. The school's projected enrollment is now lower than the threshold required to plan an addition. The threshold for planning an addition at a middle school is a deficit of 150 or more seats by the sixth year of the forecast. New projections for Neelsville Middle School reflect only 131 seats in deficit by the sixth year of the forecast. The feasibility study that has been conducted for an addition at the school will be useful should enrollment rise above the current projection in the future.

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