The superintendent of Maryland's largest school district is recommending that $220.8 million be added to the district's six-year school construction plan to help tackle overcrowding in the county's schools.
Dr. Joshua Starr says increasing the budget from $1.53 billion to $1.75 billion would help restore the timeline for projects delayed last year when additional construction funding failed to come through.
“Montgomery County continues to make significant investments in meeting the space and facility needs of MCPS and we are very appreciative of their commitment,” Starr said. “But enrollment in our school district is increasing every year and if we are going to keep up with that growth, an even bigger investment is going to be needed."
With an expected growth of 11,000 more students in the next six years, the school system has been under increasing pressure to find more space.
A News4 I-Team review of state enrollment records revealed that nine elementary schools in Montgomery County have enrollments that are 40 percent above state recommendations. One of those schools, Matsunaga Elementary in Germantown, has deployed portable classrooms to help manage the overflow.
But the problem is growing beyond the county's elementary schools; some middle and high schools in the area are reaching their capacity too.
To help deal with the growing population, Starr flagged four high schools where there will soon be large space "deficits." Montgomery Blair, Einstein, John F. Kennedy and Northwood high schools are expected to have 1,300 more students than capacity in the coming years. Starr has reccommended a capacity study to help determine possible solutions for overcrowding at the schools.
"We're definitely dealing with some crowding... We're building as fast as we can, but we're definitely gonna need some more help," said Dana Tofig, a spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools.