Mayors Testify at Public Hearing on Superintendent’s Proposed CIP
The Board of Education will hold its second public hearing on the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2016 Capital Budget and Amendments to the FY 2015-2020 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) tonight, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. The meeting will be live online and on MCPS-TV (Comcast Channel 34).
Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman and Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton, along with Rockville Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr, testified on behalf of their respective cities on Nov. 12.
You can read their testimony below:
Mayor Jud Ashman Testimony of the City of Gaithersburg Before the Montgomery County Board of Education on the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 2016 Capital Budget and
the FY 2015-2020 Capital Improvements Program
“Good evening President Kauffman and members of the Board of Education. My name is Jud Ashman and I have the honor of being the Mayor of the City of Gaithersburg. I am here this evening to provide the City’s comments on the Superintendent’s recommended Capital Improvements Plan. While I realize you will also be holding a hearing on several clusters tomorrow night, your staff informed us that it would be appropriate to provide testimony on all schools attended by Gaithersburg students this evening.
“Dr. Starr and the MCPS staff have done an outstanding job with the budget, and the City pledges to work with you and the County Council to help ensure that the projects outlined in the budget are funded at the appropriate level.
“It is projected that enrollment at all four elementary schools in the Gaithersburg cluster will, at some point, exceed capacity by 92 seats or more between FY 2015 and FY 2020. Since 2007, school enrollment in the Gaithersburg cluster has increased by nearly 600 students.
“The City was dismayed to learn the revitalization/expansion project for Summit Hall Elementary has been delayed until 2022 and planning for the addition to alleviate overcrowding has been deferred.
“We recommend that the appropriation for the feasibility study for the expansion/revitalization project of Summit Hall Elementary remain programmed for FY 2017. The school is expected to exceed capacity by 236 students in the next school year, and instruction is already routinely conducted in hallways or other areas that can safely accommodate tables and chairs.
“Unfortunately, the situation at Summit Hall is not an isolated one. By the 2019-2020 school year, Rosemont Elementary School is expected to exceed capacity by nearly 200 students and Strawberry Knoll will exceed capacity by 260 students by 2020. We understand that the feasibility study for an addition at Strawberry Knoll has been deferred until a comprehensive capacity study is conducted for the entire Gaithersburg Cluster.
“Which brings up the next point: We are pleased that the Superintendent has taken steps to evaluate the cluster in a holistic manner, and we support his recommendation to conduct a comprehensive capacity study of the Gaithersburg Cluster as soon as possible.
“Exploring the feasibility of building classroom additions and comparing those costs to construction of a new elementary school appears to be a sound and logical approach. We are also pleased that a number of outreach activities will be planned as part of the Gaithersburg Cluster Study to engage the community and solicit valuable input from all stakeholders.
“With respect to the Quince Orchard Cluster, the City strongly supports the expansion/revitalization project scheduled for Brown Station Elementary School that the Board has recommended for completion in 2017, and we respectfully request that the Board appropriate the necessary funds to ensure that the project is completed as expeditiously as possible.
“As you know, Rachel Carson Elementary is overcapacity by more than 300 students this year and has 11 portables to cope with the situation. The community has expressed that the status quo is unacceptable. In fact, Rachel Carson is one of five schools where overcrowding has exceeded the standards of our City’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, and triggered a strict development moratorium. It is notable that the increase in enrollment at Rachel Carson and the four other schools is not the result of new residential development in the communities that the school serves. We encourage MCPS to work quickly with all community stakeholders on how best to address the situation at this school.
“We are pleased that a facility planning study was approved for a classroom addition at Diamond Elementary School. The school’s core facilities are inadequate to meet the needs of the current school population and cannot support current growth without having an adverse effect on student learning. We strongly support the Board’s recommended completion date of 2017 to address this crucial capacity project.
“The City would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of completing the revitalization/expansion project at Poolesville High School by August 2022, as proposed in the Superintendent’s Recommended Budget. This building is 61 years old and replacement of the facility is long overdue. Despite the conditions of the school, performance has been ranked among the best in the nation and providing a modern facility would only serve to continue this tradition of excellence.
“While the City of Gaithersburg is not involved in the administration of our schools, we have a long and extensive history of educational support and cooperation with MCPS and the BOE. We are often recognized for the comprehensive and creative partnership approaches we take in working with you to prepare our youth for their future success.
“The City recognizes that the County will be requesting additional funding from the State in the upcoming session to address many of the concerns I outlined tonight. Gaithersburg joins you in advocating for our most precious resource – our youth – and have made additional school construction funding a priority in the City’s legislative agenda in Annapolis.
“Thank you for this opportunity to testify before you tonight, and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.”
Testimony of the Rockville Mayor and Council Board of Education Boundaries and Facilities Hearing Superintendent’s Proposed FY16 Capital Budget and the
FY15-20 Capital Improvements Program
“Good evening President Kauffman and members of the Board. I am Bridget Donnell Newton, Mayor of Rockville, and I thank you for this opportunity. Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr and I are here to testify in strong support of the Superintendent’s Recommended FY 16 Capital Budget and Amendments to the FY15-20 CIP, with one requested amendment.
“MCPS capital projects that alleviate school overcrowding in Rockville and throughout the County is the number one priority on Rockville’s County and State legislative programs.
During the FY16 State and County budget processes, Rockville will vigorously advocate for additional MCPS school construction funds that are urgently needed to address the spiraling enrollment growth in our public school system.
There is widespread overcrowding in many of the schools that serve Rockville, with the most severe conditions persisting in the Richard Montgomery Cluster:
• Rockville wholeheartedly supports the Superintendent’s recommendation to restore the opening of the Richard Montgomery Elementary School #5 to August 2017, as
approved in the Adopted County FY13-18 CIP. The average Cluster elementary school utilization rate for the current school year through the 2016-2017 school year
is 122%. Given the current scarcity of resources and high demand for projects, we have only one opportunity to build a school that can accommodate this soaring
growth. Rockville urges that the school be built to the original 740 program capacity, which aligns with MCPS enrollment projections that show an influx of 11,128 students into the system by FY 21. The amended 602 capacity is short sighted planning. For example, it was only two and a half years after the new College Gardens Elementary School opened that portables were added.
• Rockville fully supports the Superintendent’s recommendation to keep the Julius West Middle School addition project on track to open in August 2016. In the 2015-
2016 school year, Julius West enrollment is projected to exceed capacity by 227 seats. It is imperative that the project continue on schedule.
• The student population bubble is projected to hit Richard Montgomery High School, with enrollment exceeding capacity by more than 200 seats between 2019
and 2021. Rockville supports the Superintendent’s recommendation to fund a FY16 planning study for a classroom addition.”
“Good evening. My name is Julie Palakovich Carr and I serve on the Rockville City Council.
• Rockville fully supports the Superintendent’s recommendation to restore the Twinbrook Revitalization/Expansion to a 2022 completion date, as requested by the
BOE last year. MCPS ranks this deteriorated facility as having some of the worst conditions among County schools. The school is not ADA compliant and lacks a
sprinkler system. Twinbrook’s students and staff should not have to endure the crumbling conditions in this sixty-two year old building for nine more years, as
adopted in the County’s most recent CIP. The Rockville Cluster is also plagued with significant overcrowding issues:
• We are concerned that the Meadow Hall Elementary School addition project is once again not included in the Superintendent’s recommended CIP. Overcrowding
persists in this school, with an average school utilization rate of 122%, which is projected to continue for the next six years. The City urges that this project be
included in the BOE recommended CIP.
• Lucy Barnsley Elementary School provides services to numerous Rockville students that participate in its special programs. Acute overcrowding exists, with enrollment
exceeding capacity by an average of 265 seats through the 2016-2017 school year.The City strongly supports the Superintendent’s recommendation for an FY16
appropriation for the construction of a classroom addition to be completed in August 2017.
The City of Rockville is also aware of the growth and overcrowding in the Gaithersburg
Cluster, which serves the northern part of the City’s King Farm neighborhood:
• The City supports the comprehensive Gaithersburg Cluster elementary school capacity study to be conducted in the current school year.
In closing, we thank you for this opportunity. Rockville shares a common vision with MCPS that our children receive an outstanding education in adequately sized and well
maintained facilities. In the upcoming County and State budget processes, please call upon Rockville to be an engaged partner in your advocacy for additional funding for MCPS
capital projects that will improve the quality of life for our students, teachers, and parents in school communities across our great County.”