Construction at Silver Spring International Middle Could Require Shuffling Students
$28 million project approved and options during work could force transfers
Rendering of the future Silver Spring International Middle School and Sligo Creek Elementary School.
A $28 million project to expand Silver Spring International Middle School and create a “unique identity” for the adjoining elementary school has received preliminary school board approval but where the students will attend classes during construction is undecided.
Crews will demolish the front section of Silver Spring International, which includes an auditorium, administrative offices and classrooms and build an addition with administration and health offices, a physical education complex, science classrooms and a multipurpose room.
The three-story addition will include separate entries for the elementary and middle school students and some new space for Sligo Creek Elementary School, including four classrooms, administrative offices and a multipurpose room.
Diantha Swift, principal of Sligo Creek Elementary, said the project will include a larger cafeteria to shorten the lunch period, which now requires six sessions between 10:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Additional parking spaces and a security vestibule to help manage visitors’ entry are also planned.
Silver Spring International Principal Karen Bryant added the project will allow physical education classes to be held in the main building, rather than walking to a remote building on site, a key consideration as construction continues on the new Purple Line light rail, which is being built alongside the school building.
“That feels good to us, especially in the changing topography and changing transit patterns that might come about with the Purple Line that is truly right outside our door,” Bryant said.
Silver Spring International has about 1,111 students and Sligo Creek Elementary has about 700. The project will add capacity for 300 middle 100 elementary school students.
The school system has proposed three options for students while construction is ongoing on site: The elementary school could be relocated to a holding facility while the middle school uses elementary space and stays on site; certain grades could be relocated to a nearby holding school facility; or 13-plus temporary classrooms could be installed.
If certain grades were moved, some could go to nearby Sligo Elementary School, which is 200 students under capacity, but an off-site parking solution would be required.
Similarly, parking would be an issue if all students were to remain on site and the construction timeline would increase from one year to four years.
Three locations for holding schools for elementary students are being considered, the closest being 9 miles away.
“We’re not done with this process, this is just the beginning,” said Seth Adams, school system construction manager.
Notes from a community meeting say elementary schools that “feed” into Silver Spring International have not been notified about the implications of the project, and the “focus is currently on Sligo Creek,” and “other elementary schools will be notified after a decision has been made on the 3 options.”
The school system has designated “clusters,” that determine which schools students attend based on geographical area.
“We’re looking forward to continuing the dialogue with the community as we move forward,” Swift said. “As the primary stakeholders, we need to make sure we take their voices into account.”
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org