Montgomery County School Superintendent Jack Smith is recommending the school board convene a roundtable discussion group to study how to handle high school overcrowding, a school spokeswoman said Thursday night.
The recommendation falls short of what some Bethesda parents had sought: reopening the former Woodward High School in Rockville to relieve expected enrollment increases at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda.
Instead, Smith suggests studying the re-opening of Woodward as one option to ease crowding not only at Walter Johnson, but also to alleviate “space deficits” at Montgomery Blair, Albert Einstein, Kennedy and Northwood high schools, spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said.
Woodward currently houses students enrolled in Tilden Middle School, while that Rockville school is being rebuilt.
Smith’s recommendation is part of the district's fiscal year 2017-2022 capital improvements plan, which budgets major school construction projects.
Smith also is recommending the school system explore the possibility of using commercial properties to address overcrowding at these high schools, as well as countywide, by offering alternative program and career technology education options to high school students, Onijala said.
School board member Patricia O’Neill, who had not yet seen Smith’s recommendation, said she supports the reopening of Woodward.
“My position is with all the growth that’s coming through the system, we’re going to need [Woodward] as a high school,” she said.