WJ faces issues of overcrowding

To address the issue of overcrowding for the 2018-19 school year, three portables have been placed outside of WJ.

The current population of WJ is approximately 2,630 students, which exceeds the school’s building capacity of 2,330 students. Following the current school year, the student body is on track to grow rapidly, with this year’s freshman class containing over 730 students.

“In terms of dealing with the overcrowding issue, I don’t think the school will have much of a choice,” social studies teacher Alison Hoefling said. “We need to give kids a place to go to school, and we will continue to do that until the county opens up the next building.”

WJ isn’t the only high school currently dealing with concerns about rising population. A county staff report estimated that by September 2023, most MCPS high schools will be at about 110% of capacity, while middle schools will reach 107%, and elementary schools around 111%. The assumption is under the impression that the existing capacity and projects under construction are considered.

The county projections extend to 2032, by when WJ is projected to hold about 4,010 students.

“We would always prefer to be contained in the building, but we will continue to add portables and keep expanding until Woodward High School opens up,” Principal Jennifer Baker said.

Each class holds approximately 32 students, and each classroom is being used six to seven periods a day. According to Baker, the staff is reacting very well to this expansion.

“I chose to have my classroom inside a portable, and it’s been a good transition for me,” Hoefling said. “Last year I had to float between a lot of different classrooms so for me to have one place to be in all day with all of my stuff in has been great.”

Most staff and students haven’t had any trouble with the portables. Each portable has multiple windows and a temperature control system.

“I love walking to my class when it’s warm and sunny outside,” senior Jordan Berkman said. “It’s a nice break from the sometimes claustrophobic environment inside the building.”

While it may be exciting to walk to and from class in the warmer months, the walk during the colder months may pose safety risks. Montgomery County is susceptible to rain, wind and fluctuating weather conditions, which some students now worry about because of their schedule bringing them out to the portables.

“I’m happy I don’t have a class inside a portable,” sophomore Michael Baumel said.“It’s going to be difficult for students to walk outside when it’s snowing or raining and not be distracted during the class.”