Monday, March 22, 2004

Weast memo on surplusing SLES

County school Superintendent Jerry Weast tells the Board of Education in a memo that he finds "very compelling reasons" to surplus the Seven Locks Elementary School site at the corner of Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard.

According to Weast:

I believe there are some very compelling reasons to move forward with amending the Board of Education’s Requested FY 2005 Capital Budget and FY 2005–2010 CIP to build a replacement Seven Locks Elementary School at the Kendale Road site.

There would be significantly less disruption to faculty and staff by building a replacement facility than there would be with the currently approved plan that would require a two-phased approach of building the addition and then completing the modernization four years later.

The new gymnasium phase also could be done as part of constructing the replacement facility and could be completed without disruption to the students and faculty. The replacement facility for Seven Locks Elementary School also would provide relief for the overutilization of Potomac Elementary School by providing ample space to reassign 150–200 students from Potomac Elementary School.

Cost is an important consideration in moving Seven Locks Elementary School to the Kendale Road site. The total cost is between $2 and $3 million less for building a replacement facility, because it is less expensive to build a new facility at a new site rather than phasing constructionat an existing facility over a number of years.

Also, we would avoid the considerable expense that would be required to improve the access to the current Seven Locks Elementary School site to accommodate the existing traffic or the traffic generated if the enrollment were increased by 150–200 students.

Once the Seven Locks Elementary School is relocated to the Kendale Road site, I believe the current site at the intersection of Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard would no longer be needed for school purposes.

Click here for an image of the Weast memo.

[Editor's note, added November 2005: There is a notable divergence between the stated intent in this memo with the how the SLES/Kendale Road project actually developed.]

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Mom to BoE: 'You are about schools and education, not housing'

"You are about schools and education, not housing," Diana Conway, mother three students at Potomac Elementary School, told the Montgomery Board of Education. "The county's failure to correct its affordable housing policy does not mean this board must now perpetuate the overcrowding of schools."

Mrs. Conway was responding to the board's sudden and unexplained decision to scrap a planned upgrading of Seven Locks Elementary School. Instead, for reasons that are still murky, the board reversed itself and agreed to County Executive Doug Duncan's request that school property in the area be surplused and handed over to the county for the construction of high-density housing.

Seven Locks PTA President Chris Rigaux - against the votes of PTA members - said he supported the county's plan to build a new school and moving the kids to it. He spoke for almost all PTA members when he said that "we do not believe the Seven Locks site should be surplused under any circumstances," according to the Potomac Gazette. "They will shortly realize they need another elementary school and will not have that option if they level Seven Locks and construct [housing]."