2021 | Schools

Boundary recommendations released for new elementary school in Gaithersburg

School scheduled to open in September 2022

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Boundary changes to fill a new elementary school in Gaithersburg will take pressure off other nearby elementary schools struggling with crowding, according to recommended changes released this week.

The new school, scheduled to open next year, is expected to ease crowding at schools in the city. MCPS is conducting a boundary study to determine which students should be reassigned from their current schools to attend classes in the new facility.

The boundary study includes all seven elementary schools in the Gaithersburg High School cluster, along with Forest Oak and Gaithersburg middle schools.

However, two of the elementary schools — Goshen and Laytonsville — were not included in the recommended changes. Although they have the smallest percentages of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FARMS), they are the farthest away from those with the highest percentages, according to Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight’s report.

Additionally, she wrote, there are no public transportation options to either school and reassigning students from other schools would create “undue hardships for families that may rely on public transportation.”

Students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade and in sixth and seventh grade designated for reassignment would start at their new schools in the 2022-23 school year. Fifth grade and eighth grade would be reassigned for the 2023-24 school year. This aims to avoid reassigning students for their last year of elementary or middle school.

Some students in Washington Grove’s two-way immersion program will be allowed to stay at the school to finish their program.

If students designated for reassignment from Rosemont Elementary do not meet the language requirements for the immersion program at Washington Grove, they will stay at Rosemont, according to the report. Those students will have the choice to attend either Forest Oak or Gaithersburg middle school.

Crowding problems would not be resolved for all schools included in the study, but will be addressed in a future boundary study for the Watkins Mill High School cluster, McKnight wrote.

The new Gaithersburg school will sit on a 6-acre section of Kelley Park, on Victory Farm Drive, and have space for about 675 students.

When it opens, it is expected to have 455 students, if the school board adopts McKnight’s recommendations in November. Enrollment is expected to increase to about 600 students by the 2027-28 school year.

The $26 million project is expected to be completed in September 2022.

A map of the proposed boundary changes can be found here.

Gaithersburg Elementary School #8
Capacity: 674 students
Enrollment in the 2023-24 school year: 548 students
Percentage of ESOL students: 50.8%
Percent eligible for FARMS: 76.4%
Some students will be reassigned to this school from Gaithersburg, Rosemont and Washington Grove elementary schools

Gaithersburg Elementary School
Capacity: 737 students
2023-24 enrollment without boundary changes: 819
2023-24 enrollment with boundary changes: 731
Percentage of ESOL students without boundary changes: 52.7%
Percentage of ESOL students with boundary changes: 51.4%
FARMS percentage without boundary changes: 85.1%
FARMS percentage with boundary changes: 77.7%
Some students will be reassigned to this school from Strawberry Knoll Elementary

Rosemont Elementary School
Capacity: 585 students
2023-24 enrollment without boundary changes: 640
2023-24 enrollment with boundary changes: 635
Percentage of ESOL students without boundary changes: 44%
Percentage of ESOL students with boundary changes: 33.2%
FARMS percentage without boundary changes: 60.3%
FARMS percentage with boundary changes: 51.1%
Some students will be reassigned to this school from Summit Hall Elementary

Strawberry Knoll Elementary School:
Capacity: 459 students
2023-24 enrollment without boundary changes: 627
2023-24 enrollment with boundary changes: 516
Percentage of ESOL students without boundary changes: 26.1%
Percentage of ESOL students with boundary changes: 27.5%
FARMS percentage without boundary changes: 48.3%
FARMS percentage with boundary changes: 54.2%

Summit Hall Elementary School
Capacity: 457 students
2023-24 enrollment without boundary changes: 659
2023-24 enrollment with boundary changes: 358
Percentage of ESOL students without boundary changes: 59.7%
Percentage of ESOL students with boundary changes: 57.5%
FARMS percentage without boundary changes: 72.6%
FARMS percentage with boundary changes: 69.6%

Washington Grove Elementary School
Capacity: 613 students
2023-24 enrollment without boundary changes: 447
2023-24 enrollment with boundary changes: 454
Percentage of ESOL students without boundary changes: 50.6%
Percentage of ESOL students with boundary changes: 39%
FARMS percentage without boundary changes: 66.5%
FARMS percentage with boundary changes: 52.8%
Some students will reassigned to this school from Rosemont Elementary.
Washington Grove Elementary students would begin attending middle school at Gaithersburg Middle, instead of Forest Oak Middle

Forest Oak Middle School
Capacity: 955 students
2023-24 enrollment without boundary changes: 983
2023-24 enrollment with boundary changes: 838
Percentage of ESOL students without boundary changes: 31.3%
Percentage of ESOL students with boundary changes: 31.8%
FARMS percentage without boundary changes: 61.1%
FARMS percentage with boundary changes: 60.9%
Students from Elementary School #8 in Gaithersburg would attend Forest Oak Middle School

Gaithersburg Middle School
Capacity: 1,009 students
2023-24 enrollment without boundary changes: 932
2023-24 enrollment with boundary changes: 1,077
Percentage of ESOL students without boundary changes: 32.6%
Percentage of ESOL students with boundary changes: 32.2%
FARMS percentage without boundary changes: 55%
FARMS percentage with boundary changes: 56%

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