The Montgomery County Board of Education last week gave its stamp of approval to major projects at two schools: Burnt Mills Elementary in Silver Spring and Poolesville High School.
Both school communities have long advocated for updates to their aging, crowded facilities.
Burnt Mills is built to hold about 390 students, but has an enrollment of 600 students this year, according to MCPS documents. The school opened in 1964 and was last renovated in 1990.
New plans call for a complete rebuild of the school, so it would be able to hold 647 students. There will be 100 parking spaces, as well as an expanded bus loop and dedicated student pick-up and drop-off areas, according to project documents.
The new two-story building will have a courtyard and two playground areas. It is expected to be completed in September 2023.
“It’s a much, much, much needed change for the Burnt Mills community,” said Seth Adams, director of MCPS’ Department of Facilities Management.
While the school is being built, students will temporarily attend classes at a different facility — the Fairland Center. The school will move to the facility during winter break of the 2021-22 academic year.
“You have no idea how much this project means to me and my community and my scholars,” Burnt Mills Principal Stacy Ashton said. “We are beyond excited about our new school. … My heart is happy.”
Poolesville High will also undergo a major building project.
Poolesville, the county’s only full-school magnet program, was built in 1953 and last renovated in 1978.
New plans include building an addition, renovating much of the existing school and connecting it to a nearby freestanding annex. The school will be about 70,000 square feet larger when the project is complete, Adams said.
There will be a greenhouse, wetlands, an outdoor dining area and two possible gardens.
The project is estimated to cost about $60 million, according to school district documents. It will increase Poolesville High’s capacity from 1,170 students to about 1,500 students.
Construction is expected to begin in 2022, and classes are expected to stay on-site during construction.
Community members were pushing for the project to include a community and health center that would offer a range of programs, including mental health assistance, clinical services, senior living services, after-school programs, public transportation and police coverage.
Plans approved Thursday by the school board do not include the community center or other amenities. The school’s gym also will not be expanded, even though some community members requested it.
“We have a really good plan. It meets the academic needs. It meets the athletic needs,” Adams said. “However, we’re leaving the door open for expansion in the future if we need to do so.”
Still, Principal Mark Carothers said the new school will accommodate the four speciality programs, while also making sure the “falcons always flock together,” referencing the school’s mascot.
“It’s a design that I feel really speaks to the uniqueness of Poolesville High School and will greatly improve the student experience by finally having a quality physical environment that matches the quality of programs, teaching and learning at PHS,” Carothers said. “We believe we will attract an increasingly diverse student body interested in becoming Poolesville falcons.”