How many Bulldogs should be allowed on Falls Road?
The County will have to determine that this year when the Bullis school presents it request to expand the school’s enrollment and construct several new buildings.
The school’s current enrollment cap, set in 1962, is 604 students, said Todd McCreight, business officer for the school. “We’ve taken many years to reach that,” he said.
With the school at capacity and continuing demand, the choice is between expanding, or becoming more selective, McCreight explained. Since the school is satisfied with its current level of selectivity, McCreight said that the only real choice is to ask for a modification to the Special Exception which could allow the school to enroll up to 900 students.
The school currently has students in grades 3-12 and does not plan to add other grades. However, McCreight said that the school wants to have a more diverse student body.
“We wish to get somewhat more diverse to better reflect the broad diversity of the Washington, DC area.”
The school’s facilities are already at capacity and it will require new buildings to accommodate the new student population.
Most classes are currently taught in two buildings, one which houses the lower and middle schools, and the other the upper school.
A new building of about 15,000 square feet would be built for the lower school. The building which currently houses the school would be completely renovated and updated, then turned into a building for the middle school.
The upper school building would be razed and replaced with a new building of approximately 49,000 square feet.
These changes will take place largely on the interior of the 78-acre campus, and are not likely to be seen by most residents, McCreight said.
The exception is some abutting property owners who will see the lower school building where there is currently an open area.
McCreight said the new building will be a one story structure which will be partially hidden by a rise in the topography of the area.
“It is designed to look residential,” McCreight said.
IN ADDITION, the school will be make changes to its athletic facilities.
The bleachers next to the track, which can be seen from Falls Road and bear that year’s senior class’ graduation year, will be refurbished.
McCreight said that the initial plan had been to expand seating capacity, but that proposal has been dropped.
The seats will be refurbished, and the area under the bleachers will be wrapped in brick. McCreight said this will make the view of these bleachers more attractive to the neighbors who can see the area.
The school also plans to replace its tennis bubble with a new structure and to add an indoor pool and new indoor practice facility. It has not been discussed whether or not people not affiliated with the school will be allowed to use the pool.
McCreight expects the facilities to take 10 years to be built out. “We recognize that Potomac is primarily interested in slow growth,” he said.
McCreight said that the school has been working with the neighbors to minimize impact upon the area.
The board of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association had an opportunity to review the proposed plan.
“We didn’t feel like it would alter the impact on the community,” said George Barnes, president of the organization.
The added enrollment may add some cars to the roads as more students come in, but Bullis’ traffic management plan calls for most of the cars waiting for pick-up and drop-off of students to wait on-campus.
Additionally, the school hopes to expand the number of bus routes it offers from six to nine, and charge an administrator with increasing the number of students who carpool and use the bus.
“They’re being very aggressive about getting kids on buses,” Barnes said.