The Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster is already overcrowded, and the kids keep coming.
On the first day of school in 2017, the high school could have 500 more students walk into its classrooms than the facility can accommodate. Montgomery County Public Schools has realigned school borders and planned an additional middle school to ease over-enrollment in the cluster at the elementary and middle school level, but at the high school level, planning to ease overcrowding has just begun.
With 1,840 students and a building capacity of 1,665 students, enrollment at B-CC High School is already too high, according to Bruce Crispell, director of long range planning with the county school system. The high school’s enrollment figures are expected to exceed 2,100 students in 2017.
"There's been a lot of enrollment growth in the B-CC cluster, mostly at the elementary level, but those kids are moving up,” Crispell said.
To make room for those students, the school system has an addition planned for the existing 16-acre school property. Estimates in the Fiscal Year 2013-2018 Capital Improvements Program called for an addition accommodating more than 550 additional students. Now, MCPS is studying the possibility of increasing the addition size to accommodate 750 students.
“We're just beginning the feasibility study, but it looks like we may be able to go up to 2,400 capacity,” Crispell said. “That would be very beneficial because the enrollment is growing at this school.”
The new addition proposal could give the school a buffer of 200 student places for continued growth, whereas the plan for a 550-student addition just meets expected enrollment needs.
A county development policy requires subdivision development to coordinate with school growth, and a moratorium would have been placed on the B-CC cluster in July had the Montgomery County Council not appropriated partial funding for the high school addition project. Under a moratorium, no subdivision developments would have been approved for at least a year until school enrollment figures were brought under control, according to Crispell.
“They funded enough to get assurance that we'll get full funding when the project starts,” Crispell said.
The school system and county officials are looking into the full costs of building an addition to the school with a community feasibility study. The first meeting between architects, school staff, parents, community members and MCPS planning officials took place last week.
"It's just an opportunity for people to come together, neighbors, PTA leaders, school staff—it's an open forum to learn about what the designs might look like," Crispell said.
Community planning meetings continue at the B-CC high school cafeteria on the following dates and times:
Committee meeting No. 2, Oct. 23 - 7 p.m.
Committee meeting No. 3, Nov. 8 – 3 p.m.
Committee meeting No. 4, Nov. 28 – 7 p.m.
PTA Presentation, Dec. 11 – 7 p.m.