The school board meets for its preliminary CIP and capital budget discussion on Monday. Credit: Caitlynn Peetz

If Montgomery County’s school board later approves a recommended six-year capital improvements plan, space for more than 14,000 students would be added to county schools by 2026.

Last week, Superintendent Jack Smith released his recommended capital budget and capital improvements plan, which set the long-range vision for construction for the school district. The budgets total about $1.82 billion and include 17 addition or expansion projects and four new schools.

About 4,000 seats would be added at elementary schools, 1,900 at middle schools and 8,300 at high schools.

The overall total of 14,219 new seats across the district does not include plans for nine “major” projects across the county because initial plans for those projects have not yet been determined.

MCPS enrollment this year grew by nearly 2,800 students, the largest one-year increase in the past 10 years. On average, enrollment grows about 2,400 students, but staff members had expected growth to slow. Last year, enrollment grew by 1,134 students.

According to new CIP documents, MCPS is using 553 temporary classrooms this school year, mostly to ease crowding.

Advertisement

“There’s a great deal of need in the system in terms of capacity and renovations,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of very important work here that everyone understands and knows is critical to our future as an organization and as a school system.”

The school district’s capital improvements program (CIP) for fiscal years 2021-2026 was previously approved, but each year, the school board can adjust the plan.

Smith’s recommended CIP represents a $74.2 million increase over what was approved.

Advertisement

About $546 million is set aside for countywide projects like updating heating and cooling systems, ensuring schools are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The school board is in the early stages of reviewing Smith’s funding recommendations with several work sessions and public hearings planned throughout the month. The first public hearing about the CIP will be held on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the school district’s headquarters in Rockville.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

Advertisement