School board to community: We may not get these building funds -- Gazette.Net


School board members agreed Thursday night that the $14.2 million in capital projects and studies that Superintendent Joshua P. Starr wants to add to the school system’s six-year construction plan are important, and they are eager to see them completed.

But the board members reminded the community to be patient, as the Montgomery County Executive and County Council might not be so eager.

“We have to recognize the possibility of these being pushed back by the executive,” board Vice President Christopher Barclay said, adding that several projects have been pushed back in the last five years.

After hearing from the public at two hearings Monday and Thursday, the board will decide on its recommendation to the county executive on Nov. 19.

Of the funds, $220,000 will go to studies to look at the capacity of the downcounty consortium, enrollment changes for New Hampshire Estates and Oak View elementary schools, boundaries in the Clarksburg area and capacity changes at Northwest and Seneca Valley high schools because of Seneca Valley’s planned modernization.

Another setback would be particularly tough for the Seneca Valley High School community, board members said. For more than a decade, parent groups have been urging the school system for renovations; the modernization is scheduled to be complete in 2018.

“I can’t think of any part of Seneca Valley High School that you would want to keep, having worked there,” board member Judy Docca said, later clarifying that she meant the building, not the staff.

Starr warned residents that boundary changes are possible with the new studies, schools and school additions.

Barclay reminded school system staff to always include the community in conversations about changes — even if they won’t happen in five or more years.

“We need to keep people well informed,” Barclay said. “Whatever decisions are made, people are going to want to know as much as they can.”

The majority of the $14.2 million — $11.5 million — will go to upgrades for heating and air conditioning replacements; $2.5 million will go to building parts such as fire alarms, public address systems, water and sewer systems, floors, ceilings, windows and doors. The funding would add onto the $1.35 billion already approved for other projects such as six new elementary school addition projects, a middle school addition and funding for a new elementary and middle school.

Next week’s public hearings will be both be held at 7 p.m. at the Carver Educational Services Center at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville