Seven Locks Controversy Timeline

Seven Locks Controversy Timeline

JANUARY, 2001: Montgomery County Public Schools completes a feasibility study for plans to conduct a modernization project at Seven Locks Elementary School in Potomac.

MAY, 2001: The County Council approves $250,000 in planning funds for the project, which MCPS says will address overenrollment at both Seven Locks and nearby Potomac Elementary. The council directs the Board of Education to expand the Seven Locks project to include an addition and to undertake a boundary study. The addition is planned to be completed in September, 2006.

JULY, 2001: MCPS forms an architect selection committee to for the modernization. Parents complain that they are excluded from the process.

JANUARY, 2002: Architecture firm Walton, Madden, Cooper, Robinson, Poness, Inc. reports to MCPS on at least four options for increasing capacity that include alternatives at both sites.

AUGUST, 2003: County Council staff begin to research ways to improve the county’s 30-year-old affordable housing program. Councilmembers and planners are concerned about the skyrocketing cost of housing in the county, which has forced out many middle-income workers like teachers and firefighters.

OCTOBER, 2003: County Executive Doug Duncan sends a letter to MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast asking that the board declare three parcels of land, originally planned for schools, as surplus. Two of these parcels — 20 acres on Brickyard Road and 10 acres on Kendale Road — are in Potomac. The third, about two acres, is on Edson Lane in Bethesda. Duncan asks that the land be transferred to the County for use as affordable housing.

FEBRUARY, 2004: Council staff releases a comprehensive report on affordable housing that includes the recommendation that the county seek to use public land to build moderately priced housing. County Executive Doug Duncan calls on the school system to identify land in its inventory that could be turned over to the county for such housing.

FEB. 23, 2004: In a memo to the Board of Education, School Superintendent Jerry Weast recommends evaluating the feasibility of building a new replacement school on the Kendale Road site to address capacity needs at Seven Locks and Potomac Elementary, rather than proceeding with the planned modernization and addition at Seven Locks.

MARCH, 2004: In another memo to the board, Weast states that if the Kendale school is built, “I am inclined to recommend that the Seven Locks site be transferred to the county for workforce housing.” A draft feasibility study for the Kendale weights the costs and advantages of three plans on the site but does not include options on the existing Seven Locks site.

MARCH 22, 2004: The board adopts a resolution to alter the 2005 capital budget and 2005-2010 Capital Improvements Plan to remove funding for the Seven Locks addition and instead fund the Kendale road replacement school. Community groups begin to align in opposition to the switch, to the possibility of building affordable housing on the Seven Locks site and to any surplusing of school and. Over the next two years, Seven Locks neighbors testify frequently at school board, planning board, and council hearings, calling the switch a fly-by-night decision. They also claim repeatedly that they have been pushed aside in public processes.

MAY, 2004: The County Council approves $14 million of funding for Kendale during fiscal years 2005-2008.

AUGUST, 2004: A coalition of citizens associations appeals the school board’s hiring of an architect for the Kendale school to the State Board of Education, saying the county board did not follow its own policies.

NOV. 18, 2004: The Board of Education approves an amended FY 2005-2010 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) request totaling $923.7. One of the amendments declared as surplus a the Edson Lane site, 1.75-acre parcel of land on the property of Tilden Middle School.

MAY, 2005: The council votes to leave the $14 million of Kendale funding intact in an off-year review of the CIP.

NOV. 10, 2005: Weast states on the record that during his tenure as superintendent, he will not recommend that Seven Locks be surplused. He said the site could remain an elementary school or be used for another educational purpose, but without a recommendation to surplus, it could not leave the MCPS inventory. The comments were also released as a signed statement.

JANUARY, 2006: The Board of Education votes to award a $16 million construction contract for Kendale, contingent upon the council filling a $3.3 million special appropriation request to cover projected cost overruns, attributed to inflation and the rising cost of steel, plastics and other construction materials.

FEBRUARY, 2006: Montgomery County Inspector General Thomas Dagley releases a 25-page report that faults MCPS for providing misleading and inflated cost data about renovating Seven Locks Elementary and failing to provide the board and council with information about two less costly options on the site. The report also states that MCPS misrepresented community sentiment in reports to the board and council. In response, Councilmember Howard Denis (R-1) says he’ll introduce a CIP amendment to halt plans to build on Kendale and instead build a new school on the current Seven Locks site.

MARCH 7 and 21, 2006: Scheduled hearings at the County Council to consider a $3.3 million special appropriation request for Kendale construction and Denis’ CIP amendment, respectively.

AUGUST, 2007: Current scheduled completion date for the Kendale Road replacement school. A boundary study process is set to begin this month to determine which students will attend the school, if it is built.