Elevation drawings of the addition planned for North Bethesda Middle School Credit: Via MCPS

A Bethesda middle school that surpassed 1,000 students this school year is set for a major addition project to help ease overcrowding.

The Montgomery County Board of Education approved Tuesday preliminary plans for a $16 million addition at North Bethesda Middle School—the Bradmoor Drive school with 1,031 students in a building with a capacity of 874.

“The need is great and you have wisely appreciated that need,” Principal Alton Sumner told the board before the unanimous vote.

The project will include 14 new classrooms, a second gym and staff offices on two floors to be built on the north side of the school, on the existing basketball courts. The new classroom spaces will be flexible to allow for a mix of classes and there also will be two science labs and a health classroom.

The basketball courts will be rebuilt nearby and a student drop-off loop that now has room for 13 buses will be expanded to accommodate more.

The project was originally set for completion in August 2017, but a lack of funding in the county’s capital budget has pushed it back to an August 2018 completion date. Construction is set to start in late 2016.

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The existing layout of North Bethesda Middle School (left) and the layout with a planned addition project (right), via MCPS?

If completed on time for the 2018-2019 school year, it will increase the school’s  capacity to 1,208 students. Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) projects the school’s population will grow to 1,184 students that school year.

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The projected enrollment for the year after the addition opens is 1,195 students, then 1,162 students in the 2020-2021 school year.

MCPS has grown by more than 2,000 students for eight straight years, with much of that growth coming at the elementary school level in kindergarten through fifth grade.

As those students move on to middle and high schools, the school system is facing capacity crunches at some schools that were renovated and expanded not that long ago.

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North Bethesda Middle School, which has three portable classrooms to accommodate its students, was renovated, expanded and reopened in 1999 with a total of 130,000 square feet on almost 20 acres in the Ayrlawn neighborhood.

Students from the middle school move on to Walter Johnson High School, which is facing its own capacity issues and is in line for an addition project over the next few years after a renovation in 2009.