Updated 9:55 a.m. Monday: At education capital budget hearings this year held by county officials, parents offered vivid descriptions of cramped quarters in schools across Montgomery County.

They described packed cafeterias, outdoor play areas covered up by portables and space-constrained classrooms.

But, the sum total of all of this crowding can be difficult to visualize. Recently, Montgomery County Public Schools staff presented a series of heat maps to County Council members who are considering the lineup of capital projects over the next six years.

The three maps depict color-coded utilization levels inside service areas at the elementary, middle and high school levels. For the high school map, green means the region is at 81 to 90 percent of capacity during the 2017-2018 school year. Yellow is for schools that are at 91 to 100 percent of capacity. Red is for areas dealing with crowding. The color coding is slightly different for the other two maps.

On the high school map, red covers nearly the entire western side of the county, including the Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman and Winston Churchill high school clusters. At the middle school level, the crowded schools are concentrated in the downcounty area, while elementary school crowding is an issue along much of the Interstate 270 corridor, according to the maps.

For an idea of what the future could hold, a county staff report estimates that the county by September 2023 will be at about 110 percent of capacity at the high school level, if only existing capacity and projects under construction are considered. Using the same assumptions, middle schools overall will be at 107 percent of capacity, and elementary schools will be at 111 percent of capacity, according to the estimate.



Heat maps showing school utilization across the county (click to expand). Credit: MCPS.

C-SPAN recognizes documentaries by Silver Spring students

Students from Montgomery Blair High and Eastern Middle schools, both in Silver Spring, have won first-place prizes in a C-SPAN documentary contest.


About 5,700 students submitted 2,985 films to the 2018 StudentCam competition, according to the contest website. High school seniors from Iowa won the grand prize for their documentary, “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote.”

Hemakshi Gordy and Jansikwe Medina-Tayac, 10th-graders from Montgomery Blair, won first place and the title of fan favorite for their piece, “No Trespassing: Seeking Justice for Native Women.” Middle schoolers Kiera Lamb, Uma Fox and Kiah Beachler were recognized for their documentary, “Survival of the Veiled Face: The Constitutionality of Abortion.”

C-SPAN will air the winning documentaries at 6:50 a.m. during the month of April. The films are posted online.


Deadline approaches for United We Learn contest

Students have a few more days to enter submissions for the United We Learn contest, a challenge to create artwork that celebrates diversity and education equity.

Montgomery County Public Schools students can enter written or visual pieces on the topic, “All means all.”


March 16 is the submission deadline for the contest, which is in its second year, and the winners will be announced April 12. The top entries will be featured on the MCPS website, and winners will be recognized at the Champions for Children event on April 18. More information is available online.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdda-remix.newspackstaging.com.

This story was updated to clarify that the color coding is slightly different for the high school map than for the maps showing utilization at the high school and middle school levels.