Late last week, Montgomery County Public Schools released the Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget and Capital Improvements Program (CIP), detailing plans for new school construction and construction additions to MCPS buildings.
The Recommended FY 2018 Capital Budget and Amendments to the FY 2017–2022 Capital Improvements Program that was submitted to the Board of Education on Oct. 27. It maintains the level of funding for the six years that was approved in the adopted CIP. The County Council’s adopted FY 2017 Capital Budget and FY 2017–2022 CIP for MCPS totaled $1.729 billion.
The proposed plan keeps reconstruction/revitalization of Seneca Valley High School on track to begin construction in the summer of 2017, with a completion date for the building scheduled for August of 2019. Construction of the entire site; including football, baseball, softball fields, as well as the track, and tennis courts is programmed to be completed in August of 2020.
The new school will increase the student capacity at Seneca Valley. The new school will have a capacity of 2,400 seats; there will be approximately 1,000 seats available to accommodate students from Clarksburg and Northwest high schools when the project is complete.
The plan also calls for a classroom addition for S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Germantown with a completion date of August 2019. According to the CIP report, McAuliffe Elementary, which located at 12500 Wisteria Drive in Germantown, currently has an enrollment of capacity of 531 and has a actual current enrollment of 596, which is 65 students over capacity. The school is expected to be over enrollment by 113 next year.
The classroom addition will increase the capacity of the school by 231, bring the total capacity to 762 students.
In September, the Board of Education appointed the Baltimore-based firm of Hord Coplan Macht, Inc. to provide professional and technical services during the design and construction phases for the school’s addition project.
According to the resolution approved by the Board at the September meeting, “The preliminary construction cost estimate for the project is approximately $9,889,000.” The Board approved the signing of a contract with Hord Coplan Macht, Inc. for $675,290 for professional architectural and engineering services for the S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School addition project.
“As our enrollment continues to significantly increase, the Board of Education and the County Council have shown strong support and made significant investments to meet the growing space and facility needs of MCPS,” Smith said. “While I am only seeking small changes to the current CIP that will allow us to plan for the continued growth of our school system, we must be prepared in the next CIP cycle to address the backlog of projects and growing overutilization at our middle and high schools.”
Every two years, the county approves a six-year Capital Improvements Program, which includes school construction and infrastructure projects. In off years, such as FY 2018, only amendments to the adopted CIP are considered.
MCPS is experiencing its ninth straight year of significant enrollment growth. Preliminary enrollment for this school year is 159,242, an increase of 21,497 students since 2007. By 2022, enrollment is expected to reach 168,480 students. In order to address this growth, nearly 15,000 seats have been added to increase capacity through new school openings and expansion of existing schools. And while most of this growth has taken place in elementary grades, many of these elementary school students have begun to enter middle and high school and, as a result, those schools quickly will become overutilized during the next six years.
In order to address this growth, the adopted 2017-2022 CIP includes funding for the planning, design, and/or construction of 17 elementary school capacity projects, seven middle school capacity projects, and two high school capacity projects. The adopted CIP also included planning and construction funds for 14 elementary school revitalization/expansion projects, along with four middle school and four high school revitalization/expansion projects. These projects will focus on aging infrastructure and address overutilization at many schools throughout the district. The adopted CIP also includes funding for many countywide systemic projects that will allow MCPS to upgrade or replace various building systems at several schools.
The Board of Education will consider Smith’s amendments and recommendations at a work session today, November 3. The Board will hold public hearings on Thursday, Nov. 10 and Monday, Nov. 14 on the CIP amendments and recommendations. Both hearings will begin at 7 pm and will be held at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville.
The Board will approve a CIP amendment request on Monday, Nov. 21. The request will then be submitted to the County Executive and the County Council for consideration. For more information on the hearings and to sign up to speak, visit the Board of Education website.
The County Executive will issue his recommended FY 2017-2022 CIP amendments for all county agencies by mid-January for County Council discussion and action. The Council will hold a hearing in early February and will conduct work sessions in March and April, before adopting an approved FY 2018 Capital Budget and Amendments to the FY 2017-2022 CIP by the end of May.
NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that construction of the new Seneca Valley High School would start in August of 2018. It should have read August of 2017. Germantown Pulse apologizes for any confusion.
Top: Proposed plans for the new Seneca Valley High School.
Video: The proposed design of the new Seneca Valley High School, which was released by MCPS in January of 2015.
Next: S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School on Wisteria Drive, which has been using portable trailer classrooms for many years, is slated for a classroom addition to be completed by August 2019.
Next. Superintendent Dr. Jack R. Smith.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.