Crowded hallways, bigger classes, less interaction with teachers — the effects of overpopulation are apparent at Clarksburg High School. In the past seven years, the school’s population of 1972 students has grown the most out of any Montgomery County high school and currently exceeds the building’s capacity by 334 students.
According to Bruce Crispell, director of MCPS’ Division of Long Range Planning, the rapid growth in the Clarksburg district is due to local housing developments. “There’s a Clarksburg master plan which was approved about 20 years ago, and it allows for about 14,000 new housing units,” explains Crispell. “That’s what’s continuing to fuel the increases we’re seeing.” The development is about halfway done. “Probably in five to 10 years, [the community] will be pretty much built out, and things will begin to calm down up there,” says Crispell.
In the meantime, Clarksburg senior Marko Oven-Rivera has felt the effects of overpopulation. “My classes have gotten a lot bigger,” Oven-Rivera says. “I work better in smaller groups, [but now] having a lot of bigger classes [means I] don’t get as much one-on-one time with the teacher.” Junior Matthew Chuang agrees. “Since there [are] so many people in the hallways and on the road, I guess it affects me negatively,” he says.
James Berry, Clarksburg’s assistant administrator, agrees that the overpopulation has led to shortage of space, compelling the installation of eleven portable classrooms. “Using such a high percentage of classrooms every period limits any school’s ability to respond to unusual situations,” says Berry. These situations include relocating classes after an emergency or large-scale AP or other standardized testing, according to Berry.
Montgomery County’s Division of Long Range Planning is working to address the overpopulation at Clarksburg. A new addition is being built and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. “That addition is going to increase the capacity to 1980,” explains Crispell. “It’s going to improve things considerably.”
However, Clarksburg High School’s population is expected to exceed 1980 by 2016, according to Crispell. When the neighboring Seneca Valley High School is renovated in 2018, it will be enlarged to accommodate additional students from the Clarksburg district. “We’re doing that because we really can’t add on more to Clarksburg than what we’re doing this year, and we have an opportunity because Seneca Valley is ready to be revitalized and expanded,” says Crispell. The county plans to move 500-600 students from the Clarksburg district to Seneca Valley.
Article by the MoCo Student Staff Writer Eleanor Harris of Montgomery Blair High School