MCPS BOE responds to overcrowding in schools


In response to the projected overcrowding of Bethesda area public schools in both the Walter Johnson and B-CC clusters, many steps have been taken by the Board of Education. Last November, the Board approved additions for Ashburton Elementary School, Kensington Parkwood Elementary School, Luxmanor Elementary School, North Bethesda Middle School and Tilden Middle School. The Board also approved funds for the Woodward High School feasibility study, a study to assist with the reopening of Woodward High School and a new middle school in the B-CC cluster is projected to open in August.
On February 7, representatives of the WJ Cluster testified in front of the County Council, asking them to fully fund the 2018 Capital Budget and Amendments to the Fiscal Year 2017-2022 Capital Improvement plan. Two public information meetings regarding the Woodward feasibility study have been scheduled at Tilden Middle School. One was held on February 23 and the other will take place on March 2. The public information meeting includes information about the new programs that the school system is exploring, including use of non-traditional facilities such as commercial buildings. The reopening of the Woodward facility on Old Georgetown Road is expected to fully relieve the overcrowding problem at Walter Johnson and at other county schools as well.
Additionally, to combat overcrowding, a new middle school is being constructed on Saul Road, to feed into Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. The new middle school—currently known as Bethesda-Chevy Chase Middle School—will open in August to address enrollment growth in the cluster.
Under MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith’s recommendation, students from Chevy Chase and North Chevy Chase Elementary Schools and half of the students from Rock Creek Forest Elementary School will attend the new middle school. Students from Bethesda, Somerset and Westbrook Elementary Schools and the other half of Rock Creek’s students will continue to attend Westland Middle School in Bethesda. The students in Rock Creek Forest’s Spanish Immersion Program will attend Westland, while the students not in the program will attend the new middle school, according to the plan.
In December, the MCPS board named Traci Townsend, the current principal of Earle B. Wood Middle School, to lead the new middle school.
Smith told the board that Townsend has created a “well-run, learning-focused” environment at her current school and expressed confidence that she would do the same in the new middle school.
A committee has been assigned to recommend a name. This month, the Board released a list of four names they’re considering for the new school. Potential names include Kensington, Silver Creek, Harriet Tubman or Dr. Paul L. Vance — a former MCPS superintendent who passed away in 2015.
“The final decision does rest with the board, but the school and the community really have a say in what the school’s name should be,” MCPS Spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala said in an interview with Your 4 State.