Ten Bethesda Sites Proposed for New Elementary School
Project aims to ease crowding in Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Walter Johnson clusters
Ashburton Elementary School, pictured, is one of the most crowded schools in the Walter Johnson and Bethesda-Chevy Chase high school clusters.
Photo Via MCPS
A new elementary school could be coming to Bethesda, but no timeline has been set.
In a presentation at Bethesda Elementary School on Monday, representatives of a consulting firm and Montgomery County Public Schools presented the preliminary findings of an elementary school capacity study for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Walter Johnson high school clusters.
In the presentation, project leaders suggested 10 potential new school sites, according to documents posted online after the meeting. The new school would likely be shared by the two clusters.
The idea is in a preliminary stage. School officials have not estimated when it would be built.
Many of the proposed sites for a new elementary school fall on park space and land already owned by the school district.
The sites are:
• Ayrlawn Elementary & Local Park — Existing school that closed in 1982 and is still owned by MCPS
• Grosvenor Elementary School — Existing facility that is currently used as a temporary school while other schools undergo major renovations or expansions
• Lynnbrook Center — Existing facility that is currently closed, but is still owned by MCPS
• North Bethesda Community Center — The proposal calls for collocating a school with a recreation center that is slated for development on the site
• Stratton Local Park — The “most significant” drawback of this site is potential noise from a nearby fire station, according to the report.
• G.E. Coffield Recreation Center — The proposal suggests collocating a school with the existing recreation center.
• Fleming Local Park — A school is proposed to be placed on top of the existing ball field, which is the only level area on the site.
• Montrose Center — An MCPS-owned facility that is currently closed.
• North Farm Park — The site is “extremely tight” and bordered by a wooded area that limits development to the south.
• Norwood Local Park — The location has “ample space to develop a school and still maintain many park features.”MCPS undertook the capacity study for elementary schools in the Bethesda and Chevy Chase areas as schools become increasingly crowded. Ashburton Elementary School, for example, has about 110 more students than its building can hold.
“This area of the county has been experiencing an increase in population that has resulted in an increase in school age children. This has resulted in overcrowding in many schools in the clusters,” the draft report says. “The trend in increased population is likely to continue and this study has been prepared as part of an overall study to explore ways to accommodate the projected student population.”
The report says a new elementary school would help ease crowding issues if other elementary schools receive additions to bring their capacity to a “target” of 740 students. The elementary schools targeted for potential expansions are Bethesda, Chevy Chase, North Chevy Chase, Rosemary Hills, Somerset and Westbrook.
Some schools were ruled out for potential additions due to site constraints that would limit available parking space, bus services and playgrounds. No schools in the Walter Johnson cluster were suggested to receive expansions because they are already at or above the 740-student capacity target.
Elementary schools in the B-CC cluster are currently at 98% enrollment while elementary schools in the Walter Johnson cluster are currently at about 103%.
Seth Adams, director of the MCPS Division of Construction, said there will be additional meetings scheduled to receive public feedback on the proposals and MCPS will undergo a thorough “site selection process” in the coming months.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org