A school with small classrooms and a personalized learning environment: simply a dream for the many schools that are jam packed with grumbling kids and overwhelmed instructors. Montgomery County Public Schools is undeniably bursting at the seams.
The old issue of school overcrowding is still going strong, and thankfully, Superintendent Dr. Starr, along with the rest of the Board of Education, is making it an extreme priority.
Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, the District 3 Board representative assured that “The Superintendent is releasing his capital improvement budget, and reducing overcrowding is the major focus. ” District 3 encompasses a wide area in the south of the county, bordering along DC. White Flint is included, and many conflicts have arisen surrounding plans for new developments that will result in office and retail spaces, as well as 9,000 new residential units.
“We know that White Flint will generate lots of children,” said Mrs. O’Neill, “It’s been very short sided of the planning board not to really think about the needs for another elementary site there.”
Currently, the Board of Education and the White Flint planning committee are negotiating a good location for a new elementary school to prepare for what will be a flood of new young students in the county. Not only is the Board unhappy with the White Flint planning committee, but many residents around White Flint feel the same way. “I am not currently experiencing any overcrowding yet,” said a local student. “All of this urbanization is getting ridiculous. People need to stop building more things in my area or it will get too cramped and busy.”
It is obvious that overcrowding is leading to the direct frustration of local residents and officials alike. “There’s not just any one issue, there are strains on our facilities, it continues to strain on our operating budget… we’ll need to hire more teachers, more bus drivers to support all of the kids,” said Mrs. O’Neill.
Though far from easy, there is a path to a solution. “We need to build additions where we need it, which right now, our more pressing problem is in elementary schools, so we know those kids that are in elementary are going to age up, so we need to plan for the future with middle school and high school additions,” concluded Mrs. O’Neill.
Article by Prim Phoolsombat, MoCo Student staff writer