2019 | Schools

Montgomery School Board Expected To Delay Awarding Contract for Boundary Analysis

Update expected at Monday board meeting

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A map of current school cluster boundaries.

Photo via MCPS

The Montgomery County Board of Education is expected to delay awarding a contract to conduct a controversial countywide school-attendance boundary analysis by one month.

The school board was expected to award the contract on Monday for the study of attendance boundaries, but will delay that decision to Aug. 29 to further vet proposals, according to a memo from Superintendent Jack Smith.

In January, the Board of Education passed a resolution to hire a consultant to evaluate school boundaries, which determine what area schools students will attend based on where they live. Elementary and middle schools “feed” high schools near them, creating school clusters.

The boundary analysis is the school system’s first comprehensive look at school boundaries in at least 20 years. It has pitted a contingent of students lobbying for more diverse schools against parents who fear long bus rides for their children or decreased home values if boundaries shift.

In late June, Montgomery County Public Schools released a “request for proposals” outlining the duties of the selected contractor for the year-long project.

The analysis will focus on school facility utilization and capacity, student demographics, school and cluster boundaries, transportation patterns and geographic proximity and features in each of the county’s 206 public schools.

In a memo to school board members, Smith said MCPS received “multiple proposals” for the project “that demonstrate both strengths and areas in which additional information and follow-up review would be beneficial.”

“Given the complexity of this project and of the proposals, staff will require additional time to fully analyze the proposed approaches to the scope of work, and to exercise the full due diligence that a project of this magnitude requires,” Smith wrote.

School system spokesman Derek Turner declined to elaborate or say how many proposals had been submitted for the project.

“Update will happen at the Board table on Monday,” Turner wrote in an email.

An interim report will be presented to the school board by Feb. 15, 2020, and a final report is to be presented by June 1, 2020.

The final report will include a review of the analysis process, findings and potential boundary changes.

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