Friday, September 18, 2015

Schools and Planning

Last night at Walter Johnson High School there was a joint meeting with the Montgomery County planning department and the schools to discuss planning and the schools issues.  They unfortunately didn't come with any solutions to the crowding in our schools, but they did provide useful information about how they do capacity planning for schools and what the current state of the Walter Johnson cluster is.

Bruce Crispell talks about facility planning in the Walter Johnson Cluster
 The first presentation about the schools came from Bruce Crispell, the directory of the Long-range Planning division of MCPS.  He showed slides on the trends in cluster enrollment growth, current plans for adding capacity to existing schools, and cluster enrollment projections for the next five years.

This slide shows the elementary school enrollment from 2007 to 2015.  Overall there has been significant growth with Ashburton Elementary school the largest (918 students) and still growing.  Garret Park is also growing rapidly and is now the second largest elementary school in the  cluster with 807 children enrolled.

Student generation rate by housing type, southwest area of Montgomery county

The school system has calculated how many students will be enrolled in the schools for each type of housing unit.  It ranges from a high of 0.323 for single-family detatched houses in elementary school to a low of 0.017 for high-rises (5 or more floors) in Middle school.

Pamela Dunn talks about the Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP)
 The Subdivision Staging Policy section of the presentation was presented by Pamela Dunn, the acting chief of the functional planning & Policy division in the planning department. This policy is reviewed every four years (next review period starts in October) and is a critical part of the planning process since it defines what it means to have adequate capacity in the schools, when schools are overcrowded enough that developers have to pay into the school system, and when schools are so overcrowded that there should be a development moratorium.

She talked about how after 2008 they changed how the calculate the student generation rate of new housing to use actual MCPS student addresses matched to structure type information (Single family detached, single family attached, Mid-rise multifamily, and High-rise multifamily).

After the presentation, they had tables set up where people could ask questions about specific parts of the process.  The one related to the public schools was the most crowded, but they also had a table for the Rock Spring development, the White Flint 2 development, and the road and school capacity planning (The Subdivision Staging Policy).  The public schools table was by far the most popular.

This meeting was much more informative than the Rock Spring planning meeting, but, the final result is that they still don't have a plan for handling the students coming from the high density infill development they are proposing.

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