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County Council Committees Meet on March 10

photo of the 17th Montgomery County Council

The Montgomery County Council’s Education Committee will hold a worksession at 9:30 a.m. on March 10 about the request of a special appropriation of $5 million for relocatable classrooms to enable Montgomery County Public Schools to accommodate student population changes for the 2014-15 school year.

The Education Committee, which is chaired by Craig Rice and includes Councilmembers Phil Andrews and Cherri Branson, will meet in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at

MCPS currently uses 498 relocatable classrooms for a variety of purposes. Overall, the number of relocatable classrooms is about at the same level as in Fiscal Year 2012. However, a report provided to the Council says that, given enrollment increases that have occurred since then and which are projected, it is likely MCPS will not be able to significantly reduce its use of relocatable classrooms over the next six years.

The Education Committee also will continue its review of the Fiscal Years 2015-20 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) request of MCPS. It also will address plans to relocate the MCPS Food Distribution Facility and the MCPS and Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission vehicle maintenance facilities.

At 10 a.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, which is chaired by Roger Berliner and includes Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer, will hold worksessions on four proposed executive regulations designed to protect trees. Executive Regulation 22-13 establishes procedures for implementation of the County’s tree canopy conservation law.

At 2 p.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room, the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, which is chaired by Nancy Navarro and includes Councilmembers Branson and Riemer, will hold a worksession on the future of the auditorium that was once part of the former Blair High School on Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring. A new Blair High School was built on a different site.

The Old Blair Auditorium is the Elizabeth Stickley Auditorium. The former Blair High School facility now houses both Silver Spring International Middle School and Sligo Creek Elementary School. The auditorium is deteriorating in condition inside, but is sealed off from the two schools and the larger facility.

In FY09, the County and the Montgomery County Public Schools conducted a feasibility study to determine options for use of the auditorium. The feasibility study produced four options.

During FY11-16 CIP budget deliberations in the spring of 2010, the committees and then the full Council selected Option 3 from the feasibility study as the best course of action for the auditorium space, created a new, stand-alone project for the Old Blair Auditorium Reuse Project and added $7.036 million to the CIP in FYI2, FY15 and FY16 to reflect the costs associated with Option 3 from the feasibility study.

A non-profit organization, the Old Blair Auditorium Project, Inc., secured bond bill funding from the State to support renovation of the auditorium. There are two bond bills of $300,000 each, totaling $600,000. The State has granted several extensions of the bond bills to accommodate the shifting planning schedule of the project. At this time, the bond bills are set to expire in June of this year. The bond bills require a match, which the County has indicated its intent to provide, meaning the total amount that must be spent by the end of FY14 is $1.2 million if the bond bills are to be used in full.

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