Potomac: Schools Seek Increase in Construction Budget

Potomac: Schools Seek Increase in Construction Budget

The Board of Education unanimously approved amendments to the district’s six-year Capital Improvements Program in November, adding $221 million to help Montgomery County Public Schools manage its current and future enrollment growth.

The additional funds will allow 36 projects to be completed sooner than currently approved, adding thousands of classroom seats throughout the county. The board’s request also includes several other projects aimed at alleviating space shortages and making the best use of available space.

Enrollment in MCPS this school year is 153,852 students, an increase of nearly 2,600 from last school year and an increase of 16,107 students since 2007. Much of that growth has been in the early grades, leading to significant space deficits in elementary schools across the district. MCPS is currently using 404 relocatable classrooms, with almost 90 percent located at elementary schools.

The district’s growth is expected to continue in the years to come, with enrollment projected to top 165,000 students by 2020-2021, an increase of more than 11,000 students from this year. This will include growth in secondary schools as the current enrollment bubble in elementary grades progresses into middle and high schools.

MCPS sought additional help from the state for school construction during the 2014 legislative session, but the funds were not approved. After the proposal fell through, the County Council approved a $1.53 billion CIP for fiscal years (FY) 2015-2020, which was $214 million less than requested by the Board of Education. The board’s requested amendments recently approved would increase the six-year CIP to $1.75 billion.