Tilden Middle School at the former Woodward High School Credit: Via Montgomery County Public Schools

The Montgomery County Board of Education on Tuesday approved the controversial collocation of a county special needs school with the new Tilden Middle School planned for North Bethesda.

A vocal group of residents from the surrounding Luxmanor neighborhood opposed the move, claiming that adding the 75 to 100 special needs students from the Rock Terrace School in Rockville would result in too much traffic and less space for future Tilden students.

Many also said residents should’ve been included in the school system’s roundtable group that produced a report earlier this year. The group included parents and staff from both schools and looked at potential building layouts.

“Tilden is not perfect. None of these sites are perfect,” board member Phil Kauffman said. “Quite frankly, there are many schools in this county that have traffic concerns.”

The school system decided in 2009 to move Tilden Middle School, now at the former Woodward High School site on Old Georgetown Road, back to the old Tilden Middle School site on Tilden Lane.

The collocation project would include a building revitalization and expansion that school officials hope will be completed in August 2019.


Board members pointed out that the Luxmanor neighborhood voiced very little opposition when the school system decided to move Tilden Middle School back to Tilden Lane.

“I understand there may be displeasure with this decision. But it would not be an accurate statement to say that it is just happening,” board member Chris Barclay said. “Getting to this point was eight years in the making.”

The idea of collocating Rock Terrace at the site came up last year as school system officials were looking for a way to move the special needs students out of a 65-year-old building.


That comment drew jeers from the crowd of Luxmanor residents at the board meeting.

Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers said collocating Rock Terrace at the site would require only two or three more school buses to transport students than what neighbors experienced when Herbert Hoover Middle School was located at the Tilden Lane site, which has served as a holding school since 1991.

The board’s approval of the collocation will allow the school system to conduct a detailed feasibility study that will include a projection of local traffic counts, detailed building plans and cost estimates.


Many Luxmanor residents carried small paper signs suggesting the board should simply collocate the Rock Terrace School at Tilden’s existing location on Old Georgetown Road.

But school system officials said the former Woodward High School site, which is almost 30 acres, could one day be needed for a fourth Bethesda-area high school to accommodate anticipated growth in White Flint.