The Montgomery County Board of Education discussed future school boundaries in the county on Thursday evening, including recommendations for relocating the new Burtonsville Elementary School and how the reopening of Rockville’s Charles W. Woodward High School will impact nearby schools.
According to Seth Adams, director of facilities management at Montgomery County Public Schools, the discussion around the Burtonsville Elementary relocation has been going on for some time.
“In November 2021, the Board of Education approved the Burtonsville Elementary School’s addition process with a completion date of August 2025,” said Shiho Shibasaki, assistant director of facilities management at MCPS during the BOE meeting. “However, in May 2022, the County Council delayed this project by two years and the completion date is now August 2027.”
In November 2022, the board approved construction of a new Burtonsville Elementary in another location instead of building an addition, according to BOE officials.
The MCPS then began evaluating sites for the school, Shibasaki said.
The BOE recommended the Northeast Consortium Elementary School site #17, which it acquired as part of a Montgomery County Planning Board resolution in 2019. The 10.95-acre site is at Saddle Creek Drive and Bentley Park Drive in Burtonsville, Shibasaki said.
There is a one-mile walk zone radius around the site. Shibasaki said a school bus transportation analysis is yet to be conducted to determine the exact walk designation.
According to Adams, the distance from the current Burtonsville Elementary School is less than three miles.
The MCPS has reached out to the current Burtonsville Elementary School staff and its parent
s-teacher s association to provide the superintendent’s recommendations and the rationale for the project, Shibasaki said.
Postcards were also sent to adjacent homeowners’ associations around the new sites. Flyers in English and Spanish were sent to students’ parents and guardians as well as to nearby recreational centers and regional service centers. Information is also posted on the Maryland-National Parks and Planning Commission’s website, according to Shibasaki.
Shibasaki said the active site selection process will begin by spring or summer of this year with community engagement meetings held throughout the 2023-2024 school year to discuss the planning and design of the new building.
The school board then discussed the boundary scope for the reopening of Charles W. Woodward High School. Funds were approved to reopen the school to address crowding at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda and high schools in the Downcounty Consortium.
“This [project] is related to not only the opening of the new Woodward, which is currently under construction, but also the rebuilding and expansion of Northwood [High School]. So, with that added capacity, it is necessitating the need to go through a boundary study process,” Adams said.
Funds were also approved for a facility upgrade and expansion of Silver Spring’s Northwood High School.
According to MCPS officials, the BOE approved shifting Northwood High School staff and students to the newly constructed Woodward High for two years, beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, while Northwood is under construction.
Woodward’s reopening and the opening of the new Northwood High are scheduled for August 2026, Adams said.
According to Adams, the boundary study will look at “identifying the breadth of the study and what clusters of schools we’ll be looking at as we go through this lengthy process to determine the surface area of these two schools.”
For the current boundary study, MCPS officials will be focusing on Bethesda Chevy Chase, Montgomery Blair, Albert Einstein, Walter Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Northwood, Wheaton and Walt Whitman high schools. The study also includes the 14 middle schools associated with the high schools, Adams said.
The superintendent will then recommend school boundary changes to the BOE.
Adams said MCPS officials will see how the boundary study fits in with a district-wide boundary analysis that the Board of Education commissioned, and how it fits in with the reopening of Crown High School in Gaithersburg and the opening and expansion of Damascus High School in Damascus.
MCPS officials said a public hearing will be held on March 9 to provide feedback on the school superintendent’s recommendation for the boundary study, with a second work session to discuss the public hearing testimony on March 14. Final action on the recommendation will be taken on March 28.