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Starr budget outlines plans for school improvement

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Published on: Thursday, November 08, 2012

By Chris Hinkel

ROCKVILLE - MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr has big plans for renovating some of the county’s old schools.

In addition to the approved $1.35 billion CIP (Capitol Improvement Project) program for 2013-2018, Starr is requesting an extra $14.2 million in funds to invest in the revitalization of old school buildings and to study how the needs of the growing school population can be met.

Dr. Starr cites HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and PLAR (Planned Life-cycle Asset Replacement) systems as two major components of MCPS that require investment.  Many MCPS buildings have HVAC systems that are well beyond their service life.  

“We have placed a strong priority on increasing capacity in MCPS over the past several years,” said Dr. Starr in the media announcement.  “However, we cannot ignore the infrastructure needs of our buildings, especially if we are going to be using many of our facilities for a longer period of time.”

Starr is also seeking $220,000 for facility planning and is recommending a study of 12 of the 15 elementary schools in the Downcounty Consortium.  This study would assess new options for dealing with space shortages, examining boundary changes and new construction.    

“The communities in the Downcounty Consortium are among the fastest growing in Montgomery County and many of the schools are already at or above capacity,” said Dr. Starr.  “I look forward to working with the community to explore all possible options to relieve crowding in an efficient and economical way.”

Starr is also considering “unpairing” Oak View (K-2) and New Hampshire Estates (grades 3-5) elementary schools, which currently draw students from the same attendance zone, and instead creating two K-5 schools with separate attendance zones.  Community input is needed, and Starr is developing a roundtable discussion group that would include PTA’s of each school to review the impact of this decision.  

Furthermore, Starr is proposing a boundary study in Clarksburg in the spring of 2013 to determine the service area for a new elementary school.  A new school would help ease the crowding in Cedar Grove and Little Bennett elementary schools. 

The board is holding a work session on Thursday, November 8, to discuss Starr’s amendments and will hold public hearings on Monday, November 12 and Thursday November 15.  Both hearings will begin at 7:00pm and will be held at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville.

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