Fire-Damaged Preschool To Rent Public School Classrooms

Fire-Damaged Preschool To Rent Public School Classrooms

Temporary lease for College Gardens Elementary space being considered

| Published:

A fire damaged the Georgetown Hill Early School's Rockville location Jan. 27.

PETE PIRINGER/MCFRS

Nearly a month after a fire severely damaged a private early childhood education center in Rockville, plans are taking shape to move students to nearby public school buildings.

The Montgomery County school board on Monday is expected to approve a resolution to allow Georgetown Hill Early School to rent two portable classrooms at College Gardens Elementary School, about one mile north of the damaged school.

The short-term lease will allow Georgetown Hill to use the classrooms through July as it searches for a long-term home for its 140 students.

College Gardens is about 200 students over capacity with an enrollment of 880 students, according to school system data. There are six temporary classrooms on site.

Georgetown Hill is a nonprofit early childhood education center at 850 Nelson St. that opened in 1999 and offers programs for infants and pre-kindergarten students, as well as before- and after-school programs and summer camps.

Two of its locations, one in Potomac and the other in Clarksburg, are on land owned by the school system.

“Georgetown Hill Early School has been an excellent tenant and continues to be an exceptional partner in serving the community,” the school board’s proposed resolution says.

Fire investigators say the Jan. 27 fire was accidental and started in administrative offices. No injuries were reported and a cause has not been released.

Since the fire, the school has raised $375 in an online fundraising campaign for a “revitalization project” to make the new campus “bigger and better.”

“While we are overwhelmed by the damage to such a treasured building, we are also reminded that what was damaged is only the walls and the ‘things’ – the spirit of Woodley Gardens remains intact and is perhaps stronger than ever,” the fundraiser page says.

In a blog post, Georgetown Hill CEO Peter Cromwell outlined short-term options the school was considering to relocate students, including churches, a senior center and local storefronts, but was having challenges finding space that meets state mandates for square footage per child, bathrooms, water sources and outdoor space.

In the long term, Cromwell said school officials hope to rebuild the school in its previous location, but are also considering other locations to build on or rent in the Rockville area.

A spokesman for the county school system did not have details on the lease terms.

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

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