A rendering of the future Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School. Credit: via MCPS

The Montgomery County Planning Board this week is expected to give the school district approval to rebuild Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School.

Lee, in Silver Spring, has been described by community members and local officials as having deteriorating conditions. Last year, some parents called for the school to be closed until it was rebuilt.

The school system began exploring the possibility of a renovation at the school in 2015, but plans have since evolved. The latest plan is an entirely new facility on the southwest corner of the property, the space farthest from the current school on site.

The location will minimize disruption to students’ learning as classes continue in the current building while the new one is under construction, according to project plans.
The new 178,000-square-foot building will include 27 general classrooms, six science classrooms, physical education space, arts and music rooms, a school store and a health suite. Space will be set aside for a future addition to include more classrooms, science labs and offices.

The project will increase the school’s capacity from 727 students to 1,008. Later expanion would make room for an additional 200 students.

The new school is slated to open in 2022, when the school’s capacity is expected to be around 900 students, according to school system data. Once the school opens, crews will demolish the existing school, which the staff anticipates will be completed in 2023.

MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith has budgeted about $60 million in the school district’s Capital Improvements Program for the project.

At the request of former County Council President Nancy Navarro, the school board is considering changing the school’s name in conjunction with the completion of the project.

Concerns have been raised about Col. E. Brooke Lee’s history implementing racist and segregationist housing and land use policies in the Silver Spring area.
Lee Middle School was built in 1966, according to Planning Board documents.

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