The Montgomery County Planning Board this week gave its approval to a proposed project at Silver Spring International Middle School that aims to eliminate accessibility problems associated with the school’s physical education program.
The project includes demolishing an abandoned auditorium that is not connected to the Wayne Avenue school and constructing a new indoor gymnasium and locker room area that is connected to the school building, according to Planning Board documents.
Currently, the gym and locker rooms are located in a separate, unconnected building, which is located down a hill and causes “challenges to students and staff with mobility challenges, especially during inclement weather,” Planning Board documents say.
The new gym spaces will be about 47 feet tall and encompass about 22,500 square feet, which is similar to the current auditorium space.
There will also be interior renovations that create space for a Linkages to Learning program that meets the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Planning Board documents.
Linkages to Learning is a partnership between Montgomery County Public Schools and the county’s Department of Health and Human Services to provide medical, mental health and educational services to at-risk students.
The school will remain open during construction, according to Planning Board and MCPS documents.
During a school board meeting last year, MCPS leaders said the project is important to address security concerns associated with students needing to exit the school building to go to the gym.
The project, when originally announced in 2018, was more extensive, aiming to increase the school’s capacity and create a “unique identity” for the adjoining elementary school. The project originally included demolishing the front section of Silver Spring International and building a new, three-story addition with a larger cafeteria, more parking and additional classrooms.
That project likely would have required classes to move offsite during construction.
The project was scaled down in 2020 as MCPS grappled with funding shortfalls for construction projects.