Last Thursday, Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot stopped by Wilson Wims Elementary School in Clarksburg to tour the facility and award Wims Principal Sean McGee, a Comptroller Medallion for his work, to make a difference in the lives of his students.
Franchot visits schools throughout the state as part of his role as a member of the Board of Public Works, which approves public school construction funding. Wims ES was opened in 2014 and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED Gold certified building, which means are resource efficient. They use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As an bonus, they save money, according to the United States Green Building Council.
Opened in 2014, the school which is on Blue Sky Drive in Clarksburg serves Kindergarten through Fifth Grade and had 921 students enrolled in 2015-2016. With an average class size of 26.6 students, and a student to staff ratio of 15 to 2. In just its third year of operation, the school is already serving more than 200 students beyond its capacity.
Franchot and McGee were joined for the tour by Montgomery County Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski, as well as MCPS Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman and MCPS Department of Facilities Management Director James Song for the tour of the school, which included a trip to see the school's roof garden.
The roof garden is a storm water management system. When it rains, the roof garden retains the rainwater in the soil, which then drains down to the ground level and is slowly filtered through the grass and soil on the ground, explained Song. It helps prevent massing flooding of streams and rivers because the rainwater is retained and released gradually. “The other aspect of a green roof that it serves as a source of insulation and allows the building to retain heat and cool air in the building,” said Song.
“All of our new construction either has a roof garden or solar panels,” said Smondrowski. “We are trying to do as much as we can with natural resources. However, this is one of the least expensive projects that we’ve done. The building is beautiful. It is very warm and welcoming for such a large school. Even though there are so many students, and the school is over capacity already, you don’t feel that when you are walking down the hallways, even when the students are transitioning from class to class.
Wilson Wims Elementary was built for $237 per square foot. While that is not the lowest priced school MCPS has built in recent years, it is still very low when compared to the Maryland State average which is hovering about $297 per square foot, according to Song.
During the tour, the Comptroller admired the mural which hangs in the hallway at the main entrance of the school. The art piece was created by the school’s art teacher Gabrielle Daniell. Franchot and the group surprised the art teach by presenting her with a Comptroller’s Medallion for her work on the Wims mural.
“After seeing the mural that your art teacher, Mrs. Daniell designed,” Franchot told a class of Fifth Grade art students, “I demanded that I be allowed to meet her and present her with one of my much coveted Comptroller
Medallions. After touring the school, I am very impressed with your school and its students. I would ask you all to work with your maintenance staff, and your principal to make sure you take care of the school because it was expensive to the building.”
“It was great to have Comptroller Franchot visit us this morning,” said Principal Sean McGee. “It is good exposure for our school, our kids, and our community. We are very proud of our school, so it is great to have someone from the state come out here and recognize that. He had a chance to see our artwork and recognize our art teacher, and see some of the cool features of our school.”
Top: Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot, Principal Sean McGee, and Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski. Franchot presented McGee with a Comptroller Medallion.
Next: The roof garden at Wilson Wims Elementary School.
Next: The mural which is displayed in the hallway at the main entrance of the school. It was designed and created by Wims’ art teacher Gabrielle Daniell.
Next: Comptroller Franchot stopped by the classroom of Gabrielle Daniell to surprise her with a Comptroller Medallion for her work on the Wims Elementary School mural.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.