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Votes

Construction Close on Kendale

Board tentatively approves $16 million contract; boundary change meetings planned for spring.

The Montgomery County Board of Education voted Jan. 10 to approve a $16 million construction contract for the Seven Locks Elementary Replacement School, slated to open in late 2007 on Kendale Road in Potomac.

The board unanimously supported a resolution to award the construction contract to Henley Construction Company Inc., which provided the lowest of several bids received Dec. 19, 2005. The award is contingent upon County Council approval of a $3.3 million special appropriation to cover cost overruns.

According to the approved resolution, the bid is 22 percent higher than the amount originally budgeted for the Kendale project in late 2003. In the 2005-2010 Capital Improvements Plan approved last spring, the County Council budgeted a 20 percent increase in total school construction funding to cover such overruns, attributed to rising prices for construction materials.

The resolution states that the extra money is enough to allow all fiscal year 2006 projects to proceed, but that the $3.3 million appropriation is needed for “higher construction prices.”

THE BOARD ACTION comes in spite of ongoing objections to the Kendale school by the Save Seven Locks Coalition, which has described the construction plan as wasteful and linked it to the demise of Seven Locks Elementary around the corner.

Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast stated for the record in November that he would not give up the Seven Locks site during his tenure.

Bruce Crispell, director of the Division of Long Range Planning for county schools, said the county will hold a meeting in the spring concerning boundary changes. The district for the school on the Kendale site will affect existing boundaries of Potomac and Seven Locks elementary schools, both of which are overcrowded, Crispell said.

Sandy Vogelgesang, a leader of the Save Seven Locks Coalition, said that her group had not given up hope of stopping the Kendale school from being built.

“It’s not over on Kendale until they actually break ground and build the school,” she said. “And no matter what happens on Kendale there’s the question of what happens on Seven Locks.”

She said that the future of both sites will be an important voting issue for her group’s constituents this fall.

“We said from day one that we assume the real basis for this whole issue may be political. If it is political, we will deal with it politically,” she said. “For a lot of people in this area, Seven Locks has made them into a one-issue voter.”