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As Work is Set to Begin in July, the Opening of New Seneca Valley High School is Delayed One Year

It is said that, “Good things come to those who wait.” Well, the residents of Germantown have been waiting for a very long time for a new Seneca Valley High School. It seems they will have to wait a bit longer.

The good news is that the new high school will be the largest in Montgomery County — perhaps the largest in the State of Maryland. The bad news is that students will have to wait a full year to enjoy the new school.

Seneca Valley High School Principal Marc Cohen informed parents at a recent PTSA meeting that — while construction will begin on schedule this summer — the work will take longer than the originally anticipated two years. As a result, instead of opening to students in 2019, the new school will open to students in the fall of 2020.

The reason for the delay explained Dennis Cross, a project manager with Montgomery County Public School’s Division of Construction is the complexity of the project, the highly choreographed dance of building a new school and while keeping the existing school open, and the fact that the 29.4 acre property sits on a significant hill.

“The project is a multi-phase project— the building of the new school, the demolition of the existing building, and the construction of the fields,” said Cross. “It had originally been planned for the building to open in 2019. While we have been striving throughout the last two years of design to meet that goal, we will not be able to meet that goal.”

According to Cross, the delay “comes from the complexity of the site. We are definitely putting 10 pounds in a 5-pound bag. We don’t have a lot of room to maneuver. It is also compounded by the fact that we are keeping the school open while construction takes place.”

He also said that the plot of land the school occupies also contributes significantly adds to the need to push back the opening of the new school. “The slope of the site. I believe it is 50-feet from the high point to the low point, is necessitating a lot of retaining walls. It is a very complex project. I have been responsible for the majority of high schools built in Montgomery County for the last 15 years, and this is the most complex building we’ve ever put together. With that said, the new completion date for the building is Fall 2020.”

“We have been talking about this for years,” said Cohen to the parents gathered in the media center at Seneca Valley High School. “When I got to Seneca Valley in 2010, I was told that we needed a new school. Then I was told that the project had been on the books for months, for years, for decades. Then all of sudden some magic happened. The testimony started to pay off. The parent advocacy started to pay off. Many of the people in this room made this happen through going to County Council meetings, and Board of Education meetings, and writing the governor, and local state officials. You all made this happen.”

“This summer you are going to begin to see the fruits of your labor,” said Cohen.

The new school will be constructed. MCPS has put the project out to bid for contractors. The bids were originally due May 10, but because of size and scope of the project, MCPS has extended the bid deadline until next Tuesday, May 16.