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Montgomery Co. Schools Address Overcrowding With Construction Plan

An expansion at Highland Elementary School will mean smaller class sizes for students.
Matt Bush
An expansion at Highland Elementary School will mean smaller class sizes for students.

The superintendent of Montgomery County Schools unveiled a five-year construction plan that is sure to please and anger parents in equal numbers.

Highland Elementary School is one of many in the county where classrooms are at capacity. So Principal Scott Steffan is ecstatic that his school is one of 14 that will see expansions under the five-year construction plan.

"We're right now at maximum capacity for student enrollment. I literally do not have one teaching space available," Steffan says. "So if I were to get [more students], then we'd be looking at portable classrooms."

Highland's predicament is common in county schools, says superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr, who unveiled the construction plan at the school this afternoon. Enrollment is expected to increase by roughly 2,000 students countywide each year for the next six years.

"These capacity projects will certainly address some of our need, but not all of it," Starr says. "We have 15 clusters that are above 105-percent capacity."

While 14 schools will see expansion projects start soon, Starr announced similar plans at 20 other schools will be delayed up to two years. That includes renovations and expansions at three high schools: Poolesville, Seneca Valley, and Wootton. Starr blames state school funding formulas followed by the General Assembly.

To that end, this five-year plan calls for $1.55 billion in funds at a time when Starr says the county system needs more than $2 billion to complete necessary construction.

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