A letter from the WJ Cluster Coordinators supporting the funding of Phase II of the construction of Woodward

October 8, 2021

Hon. Brenda Wolff President
Montgomery County Board of Education

Dr. Monifa McKnight Interim Superintendent
Montgomery County Public Schools

President Wolff, Dr. McKnight, and Members of the Board:

On behalf of the more than 10,000 students and their families in the Walter Johnson Cluster, we
write to you today to support MCPS staff and recommend that the upcoming CIP fully fund Phase II of
the Woodward High School project.

The culmination of Phase II funding follows more than seven years of work with MCPS. For several
years, the Walter Johnson cluster has been actively engaged with you, your predecessors, and MCPS
staff regarding the severe overcrowding in the Walter Johnson cluster and at Walter Johnson High
School in particular. The many years of this work, from the formation of the Walter Johnson
Roundtable Discussion Group in 2015 to the Woodward Phase II design discussions currently taking
place, have made us no strangers to the art of compromise. Compromise is about give and take; it
is about seeing needs of other community members and how decisions might affect them. Compromise,
however, also entails an understanding that some values, some outcomes, cannot be negotiated – they
are firm.

What has been firm for our cluster from the outset has changed little. We have always stated, and
continue to believe, that Woodward must (1) relieve the overcrowding at Walter Johnson HS; (2)
allow the cluster communities to remain together in either Walter Johnson or Woodward, while
welcoming an expanded community from other clusters; and (3) be a facility with physical amenities
and course offerings comparable to all other high schools in MCPS.

Within these firm first principles, however, we have both promised and demonstrated flexibility,
and there have been plenty of compromises along the way. For example, from the time it was first
announced, we fully supported the two-Phase approach of rebuilding Woodward so that it could be
used as a holding school for our neighbors in the Northwood cluster. We supported this plan even
though it would lead to a delay of at least 2 years in the much-needed

relief to the overcrowding at Walter Johnson High School, as well as result in an added level of
uncertainty in the project through a two-phase funding system. Even with these concerns, we
realized that we needed to be flexible to meet the needs of the MCPS community as a whole –
specifically to assure that a new Northwood High School was built in the most efficient and safest
way possible.

We believe that the Phase II design plans presented earlier this month to the community are also a
great example of the art of compromise. In 2019, there was some debate on whether Woodward would
be the first and only MCPS high school not to have its own athletics stadium. We opposed this
suggestion because it would have deprived Woodward students of the opportunities afforded all other
high school students in MCPS. This was a debate that implicated much more than a Friday night
football game – stadium and field space is a Title IX issue, as girls’ sports such as soccer,
lacrosse, and field hockey are, unfortunately, more likely to bear the brunt of playing field
shortages. As we began to reopen from COVID, our MCPS community also recognized the value in
outdoor seating venues – as a place to safely enjoy lunch and resume celebrations like
graduations. Accordingly, we were pleased to see that all four Phase II design options included
an athletics stadium, a track, and separate softball and baseball fields. We thank MCPS for
recognizing we cannot compromise on having sufficient facilities for outdoor play and gathering
spaces and for supporting a core value of parity among MCPS high schools.

The evolution of the design that has become Option 1 also shows the value of compromise – the give
and take needed in projects that affect many different constituents. Chief among them is the
extent to which the county should use an undeveloped land tract between the existing Woodward site
and Edson Lane that used to be a part of the Woodward property. This property was owned by MCPS but
surplused to the county in 2004 at the request of the County Executive as a potential site for a
workforce housing development and to provide funds for the school system. The land, however, was
not used for affordable housing and has remained a wooded area. Neighboring residents near the
future Woodward High School, particularly on the Edson Lane side, value this area and feared the
wooded area would be completely tom down.
While original designs for Phase II would have used more of this property, we are grateful that
MCPS staff has taken these neighbors’ concerns seriously and re-designed Option 1 to use only a
portion of this area, thereby preserving a substantial portion of the wooded space. This choice to
mitigate the disruption to the property – this compromise – came at the expense of design elements
of the Woodward stadium compared to a typical stadium, including smaller total seating capacity,
foregoing a “visitors section”, and a less than optimal location of the press box. In the spirit of
compromise, the Walter Johnson Cluster supports Option 1, as it preserves much of the wooded area
while using only what is needed for MCPS students.

In addition to Option 1, there are options before you that make no use of the property adjacent to
Woodward. However, we are concerned that options that make no use of the Edson Lane area require
workarounds that would make Woodward’s facilities inferior to every other school in the County.
Specifically, efforts to avoid using even a portion of the wooded land would come at the expense
of equity in girls’ athletics and accessibility for those with disabilities. It could also
saddle the project with unnecessary costs at the request of a small minority of County residents.
To be clear, we believe that all options presented for Phase II are worth moving forward to fund,
as all contain at least a stadium and field space, an auxiliary gym, an auditorium, and other
related facilities that are integral to the high school. As we discuss below, we believe that
Option 1 offers the most benefit to future students of Woodward High, all MCPS students, and the
entire neighboring community.

Option 1 contains the best use of field space for all sports – regardless of the gender of the team

  • by allowing for the proper orientation of the softball and baseball fields. It also promises to
    be the most ADA accessible and provide the easiest access for emergency response.
    Accordingly, we believe that Option 1 promotes equitable opportunities to participate in athletics
    and school events regardless of gender or disability and provides the infrastructure to keep our
    kids safe in the event of an emergency. While secondary to these core values of equity,
    accessibility, and safety, it is also the most appealing design, as it allows for a more centered
    grandstand and traditional track. Second, we understand that Option 1 requires fewer retaining
    walls, which can keep costs of construction and maintenance down. While cost is not everything,
    we recognize that design options that increase the cost of Woodward will slow the work on other
    projects in the MCPS Capital Improvement Plan. We therefore believe avoiding unnecessary costs
    must be a priority. Finally, while there are other options that preserve the entirety of the
    County-owned area along Edson Lane, this preservation seems to come at the expense of neighbors
    adjacent to other parts of the Woodward property. We agree that looking at the needs not just of
    MCPS but of the neighboring community – the entire Woodward community, is important. That
    community should be inclusive not only of current owners of property adjacent to the Edson Lane
    parcel, but also to Woodward’s other surrounding
    neighbors, as well as the future students, teachers, staff, and parents of Woodward High School,
    including those with disabilities.

Therefore, we urge the Board to fully approve Option 1 for the Phase 2 design of Woodward High
School and to reject any design options that do not meet the tests of cost effectiveness, equity in
fac‘Cities, and accessibility.

As ever, we appreciate our continued partnership with you and the MCPS staff on the reopening of
what we are confident will be a Woodward High School that will be state-of-the-art and benefit all
of Montgomery County. While there is much work left to do, it is gratifying to see such an
important project reach this final design phase. We look forward to being a constructive partner
in seeing Woodward to its fruition.

Sincerely,

Emily Beckman, Jim Bradley, and Sara Cortes Walter Johnson Cluster Coordinators

Cc: Members of the Montgomery County Board of Education Hon. Marc Elrich, County Executive
President Hucker and Members of the Montgomery County Council
Chairman Anderson and Members of the Montgomery County Planning Board Hon. Bridget Donnell Newton,
Mayor, City of Rockville
Hon. Kacky Chantry, Mayor, Town of Garrett Park Hon. Tracey Furman, Mayor, Town of Kensington
Cynthia Simonson, President, Montgomery County Council of PTAs Laura Stewart, Chair, MCCPTA CIP
Committee
Sheri Steissel Weiss, President, Luxmanor Citizens’ Association Ed Rich, President, Greater
Farmland Civic Association Shannon Ross, President, West Femwood Citizens Association Amy Ginsburg,
Executive Director, Friends of White Flint
Deb Berger, The Oaks at North Bethesda Community Association

Info from the Joint Rock Spring/White Flint 2 Planning Board Work Session on Schools

On February 16, the Planning Board held a joint Rock Spring and White Flint 2 Work Session to discuss schools. You can see the slides from the staff presentation here.

Some quick, interesting tidbits from this work session:

1) The projected enrollment of students from the Rock Spring, White Flint 2, and Grosvenor-Strathmore plans:  655 additional elementary students, 277 additional middle school students, and 377 additional high school students.

2) Including current homes and full build out of White Flint 1, Rock Spring, White Flint 2, and Grosvenor-Strathmore, there is a projected space deficit for 1,500 elementary school students, 900 middle school students, and 1,600 high school students.

3) Potential School Sites include:

White Flint 1 Sector Plan: White Flint Mall Site an Luttrell Site

White Flint 2 Sector Plan: Wilgus/Willco and Rocking Horse Road Center

Rock Spring Master Plan: Rock Spring Centre and Marriott

4) MCPS wants to reserve Rocking Horse Road Center for a either a middle or high school since it is an 18 acre site.

 

MCPS To Hold Informational Meetings on Woodward HS Reopening

From Bethesda Beat — Superintendent forming study group on best use of additional school space

School officials are planning a series of information-sharing meetings on the reopening of Woodward High School in Rockville.

Superintendent Jack Smith has called for a study group to discuss using the high school to alleviate overcrowding at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda and other area high schools. The group will also look at addressing capacity issues by moving alternative and vocational programs to nontraditional spaces, like commercial buildings, according to a Montgomery County Public Schools explanation.

Parents can learn more about the study group, which will meet over the spring, at meetings scheduled for Feb. 23 and March 2 at Tilden Middle School in Rockville. The sessions will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the school cafeteria.

The study group will be comprised of cluster coordinators, high school representatives, students, MCPS central office staff and advocates. The group will offer guidance as the superintendent crafts recommendations for the Board of Education.

http://www.bethesdamagazine.com/Bethesda-Beat/2017/MCPS-To-Hold-Informational-Meetings-on-Woodward-High-Reopening/

Board of Ed Votes for Capital Improvements in the WJ Cluster

According to Bethesda Beat:

The Montgomery County Board of Education approved Monday night capital improvement projects totaling $411.7 million that include expansions of Bethesda’s Ashburton Elementary School and North Bethesda Middle School.

The spending package will be forwarded to County Executive Ike Leggett, who will then present it to the County Council for approval.

The projects are part of the Recommended Fiscal 2018 Capital Budget and Amendments to the 2017-2022 Capital Improvements Program, a six-year spending program for large school projects.

Also, the board approved the proposed boundaries for the new middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster.

The school, which is currently named “B-CC Middle School No. 2,” is being constructed at 1701 Saul Road, Kensington, to relieve crowding at Westland Middle in Bethesda, which has an enrollment of 1,642, which is 555 students greater than capacity, according to school documents.

By 2022-2023 academic year, enrollments at Westland and B-CC Middle School No. 2, are projected to have 901 and 925 students, respectively.

The new middle school, which is scheduled to open in September, will draw students from Chevy Chase, North Chevy Chase, Rock Creek Forest and Rosemary Hills elementary schools. Westland would have students from Bethesda, Somerset and Westbrook elementary schools.

Students who attend the Spanish immersion programs at Rosemary Hills and Rock Creek Forest elementary schools would still go to Westland.

For the Ashburton project, the board approved a permanent addition that would increase capacity from 652 to 770 students, as well as a modular addition, by August 2019. The school’s current enrollment is 924, school records show. The total cost of the project is expected to be $14 million, according to school system records.

The modular addition would look like it’s part of the school building, but be removed when a new elementary school is built in the cluster.

School officials had considered relocating Ashburton’s Preschool Education Program to give the school more room. The board decided to give that option further consideration.

For North Bethesda Middle, the board approved an addition that would increase capacity from 864 to 1,229. According to school records, enrollment is now 1,133. The cost of the project is expected to be $21.6 million, according to school system documents.

The board also approved using the Garrett Park annex as classroom space at Garrett Park Elementary when needed. The school’s current capacity is 752, but its enrollment is 844, school records show.

Elementary school enrollment across the Walter Johnson High School cluster will be monitored to determine the timing of a new school, according to a board resolution.

MCPS Superintendent Recommends Considering Reopening Woodward

From Bethesda Beat:

Montgomery County School Superintendent Jack Smith is recommending the school board convene a roundtable discussion group to study how to handle high school overcrowding, a school spokeswoman said Thursday night.

The recommendation falls short of what some Bethesda parents had sought: reopening the former Woodward High School in Rockville to relieve expected enrollment increases at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda.

Instead, Smith suggests studying the re-opening of Woodward as one option to ease crowding not only at Walter Johnson, but also to alleviate “space deficits” at Montgomery Blair, Albert Einstein, Kennedy and Northwood high schools, spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said.

Woodward currently houses students enrolled in Tilden Middle School, while that Rockville school is being rebuilt.

Smith’s recommendation is part of the district’s fiscal year 2017-2022 capital improvements plan, which budgets major school construction projects.

Smith also is recommending the school system explore the possibility of using commercial properties to address overcrowding at these high schools, as well as countywide, by offering alternative program and career technology education options to high school students, Onijala said.

School board member Patricia O’Neill, who had not yet seen Smith’s recommendation, said she supports the reopening of Woodward. “My position is with all the growth that’s coming through the system, we’re going to need [Woodward] as a high school,” she said.

Will Woodward by Woodward Again?

As a member of the Woodward Class of 79, I (Amy Ginsburg, FOWF Executive Director) am personally cheered by the news that Woodward may once again be home to a high school.

A  just released and quite lengthy report included the discussions and options that the Walter Johnson Cluster Roundtable came up with to deal with overcrowded schools. (As you may remember, we blogged about the various secondary and primary options earlier.)

The report also included feedback from cluster representatives on the various options. Re-opening Woodward as a high school for grades 9 to 12 was the overwhelming favorite option. The report said, “This approach received the most support from the Walter Johnson PTSA as a solution for the high school. The cluster would have two high schools that meet the state and MCPS guidelines for recommended maximum enrollment. The Woodward site has the space to accommodate a high school. And the high school experience for students could be a more personal experience. The PTSA notes that this approach would require redistricting within the WJHS school cluster, and the new high school would be expected to meet WJHS’s excellent standards and environment.”

Option #9, collocating a new high school and middle school on the Woodward site, was the second of the more favored approaches of the WJ PTSA. The WJ PTSA is also very supportive of the construction of a new high school and middle school within the cluster, Option #8. Both Option #8 and #9 would provide two smaller high schools and three smaller middle schools.

 

The North Bethesda Middle School PTSA  noted that reopening Woodward was “The ONLY VIABLE OPTION, which has support from all 9 PTAs in the cluster and the only HS approach supported by a majority of the families from 9 schools in the cluster.” North Bethesda MS added,  It is the “only long-term solution for over-crowded down-county high schools that keeps the High Schools within MCPS guidelines for size; takes future capacity into consideration; maximizes use of existing property within the cluster; more opportunities for students in terms of participating in their HS community (sports teams, music, drama, etc.), which will lead to additional opportunities for college scholarships; more access to faculty, administration and counselors; maintains sense of community within the WJ Cluster; reasonable school size Is better for students with IEPs (ADHD, anxiety, depression, etc.) to navigate; won’t compromise student safety because hallways and buildings won’t be overcrowded, nor will parking lots and drop-off and pick-up points for teen pedestrians and drivers; the community streets and thoroughfares can support the traffic at the two different locations; opportunity to help relieve overcrowding at some of our neighboring clusters (BCC and Whitman). ”

Luxmanor PTSA said reeopening Woodward as a 9 to 12 high school “approach is ranked highest and is the preferred high school approach for Luxmanor and all 9 schools within the cluster. When limited to the scope of the round table (with all neighborhoods within the cluster being districted within the current boundary area) this approach is ranked 1st for Luxmanor with approximately 80% of the families supporting this approach. While this approach divides the WJ cluster into WJHS and Woodward, it does result in two high schools that meet the county guideline for high school size. This option also gives MCPS more flexibility in programing and frees up space for specialty academies or programs. Finally, while the short term costs are higher, it fixes a long term problem and the cost per student is comparable. This is the most fiscally prudent, long term option.”

 

 

Tell MCPS What You Think About the Options for Alleviating Overcrowded WJ Cluster Schools

This past spring, Montgomery County Public Schools conducted a roundtable community process for the Walter Johnson cluster. The process included PTA representatives from the cluster who explored approaches to address overcrowded elementary, middle, and high schools. MCPS wants community members to share input on the suggestions made by the Roundtable. According to MCPS projections, Walter Johnson,will be overcrowded by more than 500 students in 5 years.

You are asked to share your thoughts with MCPS by clicking here. It’s important that you do share your opinion with MCPS because we want to get the best solution to the complex issue of overcrowding in the WJ cluster. Everyone who lives, works, and pays taxes in our community has a right to have their voice heard, whether or not you have or had children enrolled in MCPS. Deadline is the end of this week.

This input will be summarized in a report for the superintendent of schools as he develops his recommendation in the fall of 2016.

There are ten secondary school options. You can get more detailed information on all of these options here.

Approach #1, Construct Additions at all Secondary Schools:
APPROACH #1 proposes classroom additions at Walter Johnson High School as well as eventually at North Bethesda and Tilden Middle Schools, keeping the current service areas. The high school would be built for a capacity of 3,000 students, with an addition complete for the 2020-2021 school year. The school would have a master plan for another addition in order to accommodate up to 3,600 students if needed in the future. North Bethesda Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,350 students. Tilden Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,500 students.
Approach #2, Reopen Woodward High School:
APPROACH #2 proposes reopening the Woodward holding school facility as an additional Grades 9-12 high school. The new high school would have a capacity for 1,750 students and open by the 2022-2023 school year, leaving Walter Johnson High School with approximately 835 vacant seats. Boundary changes would be required when the new school opens. North Bethesda Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,350 students. Tilden Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,500 students.
Approach #3, Reopen Woodward High School for Grades 9-10:
APPROACH #3 proposes reopening the Woodward holding school facility for all cluster students in Grades 9-10. The 2022-2023 school year would be the earliest completion date for the new high school. Walter Johnson High School would serve students in Grades 11-12. North Bethesda Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,350 students. Tilden Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,500 students.
Approach #4, Reopen Woodward for Grades 8-9:
APPROACH #4 proposes reopening the Woodward holding school facility for all cluster students in Grades 8-9. The 2022-2023 school year would be the earliest completion date for the new school. Walter Johnson High School would serve students in Grades 10-12 and would have a master plan for an addition in order to accommodate up to 2,700 students if needed in the future. North Bethesda and Tilden middle schools would serve students in Grades 6-7. The addition to North Bethesda Middle School would be removed from the current construction program and the planned revitalization of Tilden Middle School would be modified, for a capacity of 1,000 students.
Approach #5, Utilize Commercial Space for a Grade 9 or 9/10 Annex:
APPROACH #5 proposes leasing or purchasing commercial space near Walter Johnson High school for students in Grade 9 and/or 10. Walter Johnson High School would serve students in Grades 9/10-12 and and would have a master plan for an addition in order to accommodate up to 2,700 students if needed in the future. North Bethesda Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,350 students. Tilden Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,500 students.
Approach #6, Implement an Alternative School Schedule:
APPROACH #6 proposes extending the operating hours of Walter Johnson High School in order to provide two school sessions in one building. Walter Johnson High School would serve Grades 9-12 and offer a morning and an afternoon session. North Bethesda Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,350 students. Tilden Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,500 students.
Approach #7, Offer Online Education:
APPROACH #7 proposes offering online education and encouraging all Grade 12 students to take half their course load online and attend school for half the day. Implementation of online education would begin in the 2018-2019 school year. Walter Johnson High School would be expanded for a capacity of 3,200 students in time for the 2020-2021 school year. North Bethesda Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,350 students. Tilden Middle School would eventually be built for a capacity of 1,500 students.
Approach #8, Build a New High School and a New Middle School:
APPROACH #8 proposes purchasing a site in order to construct a new middle and high school. The new high school would have a capacity for 1,750 students and open by the 2021-2022 school year, leaving Walter Johnson High School with 900 vacant seats in that year. The new middle school would have a capacity for 1,000 and open by 2025. Boundary changes would be required when the new schools open. The addition to North Bethesda Middle School would be removed from the current construction program and the planned revitalization of Tilden Middle School would be designed for its current capacity of 939 students.
Approach #9, Co-locate a New High School and New Middle School on the Woodward Site:
APPROACH #9 proposes co-locating a Grades 9-12 high school and a Grades 6-8 middle school on the Woodward holding facility site. The new high school would have a capacity for 1,750 students and open by the 2022-2023 school year, leaving Walter Johnson High School with approximately 835 vacant seats. The new middle school would have a capacity for 1,000 and also open by 2022. Boundary changes would be required when the new schools open. The addition to North Bethesda Middle School would be removed from the current construction program and the planned revitalization of Tilden Middle School would be designed for its current capacity of 939 students.
Approach #10, Reassign Grade 9 Students to Middle Schools and Reopen Woodward for Grades 6-9:
APPROACH #10 proposes reopening the Woodward holding school facility for students in Grades 6-9, and reassigning Grade 9 students to the other two middle schools, creating three Grades 6-9 schools. The 2022-2023 school year would be the earliest completion date for the new Woodward Middle School. Walter Johnson High School would serve students in grades 10-12 and maintain its capacity for 2,335 students. North Bethesda and Tilden middle schools would begin serving students in Grades 6-9 in 2022, once the new Woodward Middle School for Grades 6-9 opens with a capacity of 1,200 students. Boundary changes would be required when the new middle school school opens.

 

There are six (ish) secondary school options. You can get more detailed information on all of these options here.

Approach #1, Open a New Elementary School:
APPROACH #1 proposes opening a new elementary school in the cluster by 2035, with a capacity for 740 students. The planned addition project at Ashburton Elementary School would move forward, bringing the school’s capacity to 881 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The planned expansion of Luxmanor Elementary School would move forward, bringing that school’s capacity to 745 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The addition project at Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School would continue, bringing its capacity to 746 students in the 2018-2019 school year. Farmland, Garrett Park, and Wyngate elementary schools would maintain their current capacities. This approach increases enrollment at Ashburton Elementary school beyond the preferred MCPS enrollment range.
Approach #1a, Open a New Elementary School:
APPROACH #1a proposes opening a new elementary school in the cluster and removing the addition at Ashburton Elementary School from the current capital projects program. The new elementary school would open by 2022 with a capacity for 550 students, but would be master planned for a capacity of 740 students. Relocatable classrooms would relieve Ashburton Elementary School until the new school opens. The planned expansion of Luxmanor Elementary School would move forward, bringing its capacity to 745 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The addition project at Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School would continue, bringing its capacity to 746 students in the 2018-2019 school year. This approach brings all elementary schools into the preferred MCPS enrollment range.
Approach #1b, Open a New Elementary School:
APPROACH #1b proposes opening a new elementary school in the cluster and removing the classroom portion of the planned addition at Ashburton Elementary School from the current capital projects program – this would mean expanding the school’s core space (enlarging the cafeteria and adding office and support space) but not adding additional classrooms. The new school would open by 2022 with a capacity for 550 students, but would be master planned for a capacity of 740 students. Relocatable classrooms would relieve Ashburton Elementary School until the new school opens. The planned expansion of Luxmanor Elementary School would move forward, bringing its capacity to 745 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The addition project at Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School would continue, bringing its capacity to 746 students in the 2018-2019 school year. Farmland, Garrett Park, and Wyngate elementary schools would maintain their current capacities. This approach brings all elementary schools into the preferred MCPS enrollment range.
Approach #2, Reorganize Grades to Create K-4 Schools and 5-7 Schools (in conjunction with Secondary Approach #4):
APPROACH #2 proposes moving Grade 5 students to cluster middle schools, reopening the Woodward holding school facility for all cluster students in Grades 8-9, and serving Grade 10-12 students at Walter Johnson High School. The grade reorganization and opening of the Woodward school would begin in the 2021-2022 school year. The planned addition project at Ashburton Elementary School would move forward, bringing the school’s capacity to 881 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The planned expansion of Luxmanor Elementary School would move forward, bringing its capacity to 745 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The addition project at Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School would continue, bringing its capacity to 746 students in the 2018-2019 school year. Farmland, Garrett Park, and Wyngate elementary schools would maintain their current capacities. This approach impacts the current instructional model because of grade reorganization, and enlarges Ashburton Elementary School beyond the preferred MCPS enrollment range.
Approach #3, Expand Elementary Schools for Capacities of 850-890 students:
APPROACH #3 proposes expanding both Kensington-Parkwood and Luxmanor elementary schools for capacities of 850-890 students. Boundary changes would need to be considered in the future. The planned addition project at Ashburton Elementary School would move forward, bringing the school’s capacity to 881 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The expansion of Luxmanor Elementary School would bring its capacity to 877 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The addition project at Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School would continue, bringing its capacity to 746 students in the 2018-2019 school year, and another addition opening in the 2021-2022 school year would bring its capacity to 878 students. Farmland, Garrett Park, and Wyngate elementary schools would maintain their current capacities. This approach expands Ashburton, Kensington-Parkwood, and Luxmanor elementary schools beyond the preferred MCPS enrollment range
Approach #4, Open an Early Childhood Center:
APPROACH #4 proposes opening an early childhood center for pre-K and Kindergarten students in the cluster, including special education PEP students, with a capacity for 350 children. The center would open in the 2021-2022 school year and Kindergarten students would be reassigned there from Ashburton, Garrett Park, and Luxmanor elementary schools. The planned addition project at Ashburton Elementary School would move forward, bringing the school’s capacity to 881 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The planned project at Luxmanor Elementary School would move forward, bringing its capacity to 745 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The addition project at Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School would continue, bringing its capacity to 746 students in the 2018-2019 school year. Farmland, Garrett Park, and Wyngate elementary schools would maintain their current capacities. This approach impacts the current Kindergarten model and expands Ashburton Elementary School beyond the preferred MCPS enrollment range
Approach #5, Open a New PreK-2 Elementary School that is Paired with Ashburton Elementary School:
APPROACH #5 proposes opening a new school serving Grades pre-K through 2, which would be paired with Ashburton Elementary School and have a capacity for 736 students. Ashburton Elementary School would then serve Grades 3-5 and have a capacity for 713 students. Students from Garrett Park Elementary School would be reassigned to the paired schools. The planned addition project at Ashburton Elementary School would be removed from the capital projects program. The planned project at Luxmanor Elementary School would move forward, bringing its capacity to 745 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The addition project at Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School would continue, bringing its capacity to 746 students in the 2018-2019 school year. Farmland, Garrett Park, and Wyngate elementary schools would maintain their current capacities.
Approach #6, Reorganize Schools to Create K-4 Elementary Schools and 5-8 Middle Schools:
APPROACH #6 proposes reorganizing cluster elementary schools for grades K-4, moving Grade 5 students into cluster middle schools. The Woodward holding school facility would be reopened as a new middle school for Grade 5-8 students beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. An addition would be constructed at North Bethesda Middle School, to accommodate up to 1,229 students in the 2018-2019 school year. The planned revitalization project at Tilden Middle School would expand the school’s capacity to 1,200 students in the 2020-2021 school year. The planned addition project at Ashburton Elementary School would be built to accommodate 740 rather than 881 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The planned project at Luxmanor Elementary School would move forward, bringing its capacity to 745 students in the 2019-2020 school year. The addition project at Kensington-Parkwood Elementary School would continue, bringing its capacity to 746 students in the 2018-2019 school year. Farmland, Garrett Park, and Wyngate elementary schools would maintain their current capacities. This approach brings all elementary and middle schools into the preferred MCPS enrollment range, but impacts the current instructional model due to the grade reorganization.

Potential relief for overcrowded White Flint area schools

Welcome news for Walter Johnston cluster schools, which are universally overcrowded, from MCPS interim superintendent Larry Bowers.

The Walter Johnson Cluster has experienced large enrollment increases during the past eight years, primarily driven by the sale of homes to younger families. Also, new development in the cluster has played a role, although by a significantly smaller amount than demographic changes in existing communities. In the future, the cluster will see substantial amounts of new housing associated with the adopted White Flint Sector Plan and the two new sector plans now getting underway, “Rock Springs” and “White Flint II.” In addition, the large WMAL property has been sold and will be redeveloped with new housing.

Superintendent Bowers has recommended that MCPS hold a roundtable discussion group with representatives of all Walter Johnson Cluster schools to gather input on a range of options to accommodate near-term and long-term enrollment increases. The roundtable would consider facility planning issues at all three school levels and include discussion of how closed elementary schools and the former Woodward High School facility may be utilized in the future. The scope of the roundtable would be the Walter Johnson Cluster and discussion of options would be confined to the current cluster area.

Here is a table that displays a list of school projects that have been completed or that are planned in the future.

Inline image 1

In addition to the projects listed above, a feasibility study for a classroom addition is under way for Walter Johnson High School. Although options that could increase the capacity of the school up to 3,200 seats are being explored, no plan has been approved. The addition will be included as one of the options in the roundtable process. As part of the Tilden Middle School revitalization/expansion project, the Board of Education approved a plan to collocate Rock Terrace School, a special education school, with Tilden Middle School as part of the project.

Because most of the elementary schools will have a capacity of approximately 740 seats by the 2021- 2022 school year and Ashburton Elementary School will have a capacity of 881 seats, the strategy of adding onto existing elementary schools will have run its course. Updated school enrollment projections illustrate that even with the added capacity described above, most cluster elementary schools will be at or exceed capacity by the 2021- 2022 school year. Middle school enrollment also is projected to fill most of the expanded capacities of the two middle schools by the 2021-2022 school year. And of most concern, Walter Johnson High School is projected to exceed capacity by more than 500 students by the 2021- 2022 school year.

Among the options that will be considered will be the reopening of closed schools and construction of a new school(s) on a site(s) in the cluster:

Elementary Schools

o There are four closed elementary schools in the cluster, including the former Alta Vista, Arylawn, Kensington, and Montrose elementary schools.

o The former Grosvenor Elementary School is in the cluster and is used as a holding school for elementary schools undergoing revitalization/expansion projects.

o There is one future elementary school site in the Walter Johnson Cluster, located at the southern portion of the current White Flint Mall.

Middle School

o There are no closed middle schools or future middle school sites.

High School

o The former Woodward High School facility currently houses Tilden Middle School, but it is slated to become a holding center for secondary schools undergoing revitalization/expansion projects when Tilden Middle School is relocated to the Tilden Lane site at the completion of its revitalization/expansion in August 2020.