An architect has been selected for the construction of the new elementary school on Kendale Road, and the way it was done may have violated Board of Education policies. The construction of the new school is intended to replace a series of improvements to Seven Locks Elementary
(See "Workforce Housing," page 15).
Before the meeting, several Potomac residents came to speak against the appointment of an architect for the new Kendale School, complaining of a lack of input into the process. "There is no committee and there have been no committee meetings held to discuss the possible replacement of Seven Locks Elementary at the Kendale Elementary School site," said Janis Sartucci, cluster coordinator for Churchill Cluster PTAs.
Sartucci presented the board with an excerpted copy of Board of Education policy FAA which states that an architect selection committee should include representatives of the affected school.
A committee was formed about two years ago to select the architect for the expansion which was to have been built at Seven Locks Elementary, said Dick Hawes of the Board of Education staff.
Rather than convene a new committee for the project, said Hawes, the old committee was contacted. "It's my understanding that everybody on the committee was polled and the majority wanted to retain the architect," Hawes said.
"What a remarkable thing to say," said Jan Jablonski, a Seven Locks parent who was on the committee. Jablonski was not contacted. "I don't know anything about that."
At least one other member of the committee was not contacted. "I've heard absolutely nothing about this from them," said Nan Kennelly, a Seven Locks parent who was on the first committee.
"NO ONE from MCPS has contacted me or, to my knowledge, the members of the previous Seven Locks Committee that worked on the feasibility study," said Harlivleen Gill, president of the Seven Locks PTA. Gill was not on the original committee and was not president of the PTA at the time.
Arguably, Potomac Elementary could also be considered an affected school, since 150-200 students from that school are expected to shift into the new school. "As far as I know, nobody tried to get in touch with me as far as an architectural committee," said Julie Dobson, president of the Potomac Elementary PTA.
The architectural appointment is to provide professional and technical services during the design and construction phases for the replacement of Seven Locks Elementary School with a new school on Kendale Road.
The firm, Walton, Madden, Cooper, Robinson, Poness, Inc. is to be paid $817,500 for its services. The initial estimate for construction of the new, 67,000 square foot school on the 10.5-acre Kendale site is approximately $11.51 million.
Other community members speaking before the meeting questioned going forward with the architectural selection until a more thorough analysis has been done of the site.
"WHILE SUCH a feasibility study took place at the original Seven Locks site, only the most cursory of reviews was done at Kendale," said Howard Milchberg, president of the Kendale Neighborhood Coalition. "For example, there has been no traffic study and no assessment of stormwater management."
During the debate the Board discussed at length the attempts they have made to involve the community, which frequently complains that the process is being rushed and going on behind closed doors.
Several public hearings have been held and notifications have been sent out to various PTA officials, said Joe Lavorgna of the Board of Education staff.
"We did everything we normally do," said Board President Sharon Cox (At Large).
"We didn't do any less," said Jerry Weast, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools.
The measure passed unanimously, with lame-duck member Kermit Burnett absent.