The Montgomery County Board of Education take a vote during its Monday business meeting. Credit: Caitlynn Peetz

Without additional funding from the county government to continue expansion of Seneca Valley High School, the school board on Monday opted to take $7.5 million from other areas of its six-year capital improvements plan for the project.

On a recommendation from Superintendent Jack Smith, the school board moved $2 million allocated for restroom renovations, $2.5 million from “planned life-cycle asset replacement” and $3 million from roof replacement projects countywide over three years for the Seneca Valley project, which aims to double the school’s capacity and transform the Germantown school into the second regional hub for career readiness vocational programs. Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Wheaton has the county’s only similar program.

“This difficult decision is necessary to support the full implementation of this major project,” Smith said. “We just need to absolutely commit to Seneca Valley so we don’t miss deadlines and miss the opportunity to add to the career and technical education opportunities there.”

In January, County Executive Marc Elrich released his recommended fiscal 2020 capital budget, which did not fund the school system’s request for an additional $45 million, about $7.5 million of which was allocated for the project.

About $5 million was proposed for general school maintenance, including restroom renovations, after community members spoke of poor conditions across the county during recent public hearings.

“At Seneca Valley it would be foolhardy not to do this project,” District 3 Board Member Pat O’Neill said. “The career piece will impact kids in the upcounty for years to come.”

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The school board did not indicate what schools the shift in project funding would impact, but said it hopes the Montgomery County Council will approve its request for additional funds when finalizing the county’s capital budget, thus allowing the affected projects to continue.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdda-remix.newspackstaging.com