Monday, September 28, 2015

Is there room for future Westbard area students in BCC cluster? - Westbard Public Hearing Part IV

One long-standing line of thought - that all students generated by future development under the Westbard Sector Plan would be districted into the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster - was called into question at last Thursday evening's public hearing. A BCC cluster coordinator questioned that idea before the Montgomery County Planning Board, who were taking testimony on the plan draft.

Nothing concrete has been put forward at the elementary school level yet, but construction of a new cluster middle school is in the works in Kensington. Parents are unlikely to find sending their kids that far away to middle school appealing, but that's another story.

The cluster coordinator noted that there is simply no more room at BCC High School. There is an addition being built there in the next 5 years. But that added capacity is forecast to already be maxed-out by its completion in 2020.

She also brought up an important point that doesn't seem to come up in Westbard-related school discussions. In addition to the 2000+ new units on the way in "Westbard", there are thousands more planned for construction in Chevy Chase Lake and Lyttonsville. Those Purple Line-facilitated developments will generate their own students.

All of this begs the question, just how could all new students be funneled into the BCC cluster? And again, it's important to point out that neither planners, nor the Planning Board, have the authority to set boundaries of MCPS school districts. They can recommend. They can promise. But they can't redistrict. And, frankly, existing parents have no interest in their current or future Whitman and BCC students being put into another district, even though that move is virtually inevitable if this draft plan is moved forward as-is.

It's clear that short of ramming this draft through over vehement community objections, an unprecedented effort is going to have to be made to identify schools that will be reopened, future school sites the County will have to acquire at top dollar, and the development revenue vehicle that will fund these acquisition and construction costs. I don't see why it wouldn't be achievable, but parents are demanding these kind of details upfront. The County needs to provide them.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the Westbard public hearings this week.


Flynn said...

Mount of curiosity regarding all this new development and the school capacity questions:

The potential buyers that would be moving into these new homes - where are they coming from? Are they new residents into the area generating new students? Are they existing residents that would be moving their children from one school to another? Something else? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

I am sure Hogan will allocate state funds to help a fast growing district in the economic engine of MD.

Anonymous said...

I love the way that the photo highlights that lady's wig, and the bald heads in the "crowd".

Anonymous said...

The BCC cluster representative frankly implored the Planning Board not to approve this plan.

This post makes a crucial point: the Planning Board needs to evaluate the cumulative effects of the proposed Westbard plan and already approved projects in this part of Montgomery County on public schools and traffic congestion.

It is clear that public school capacity is insufficient to support proposed density at Westbard. The same is true for transit infrastructure:
--Westbard has no metro and extremely limited bus service.
--The Sangamore Road Intelligence Campus will add 3,000 workers to the area in the near future. A significant number of them will drive in via the roads in and surrounding Westbard, including River Road, Little Falls Parkway, and Massachusetts Avenue.
--Thousands of new apartment units are coming on line in downtown Bethesda. Fortunately, this area is transit served, but some new residents will commute through roads that serve Westbard.
--The Westbard Sector redevelopment proposal would add 2,096 multi-family units (more if density bonuses are awarded for the delivery of affordable housing.) This will add at least 3,000 to 4,000 vehicles to Westbard.

Not good.

Anonymous said...

In Westbard, the new housing will be largely apartment units, with possibly some townhomes. Those with school aged children will largely be moving in from outside Montgomery County-- especially in the apartment units.

Anonymous said...

So the apartments will generate nominal students.

Will the taxable base increase of residents moving in from outside MoCo offset student costs?

Anonymous said...

So if this development didn't happen in Bethesda, where would these residents go/stay?

Anonymous said...

Ban all new young families from buying single family homes. One family one child!

Anonymous said...

What's the tax base increase estimate? Economic gains? Spending estimates? And how do all those compare against county expenses?

Anonymous said...

7:42 I'm curious too. How are folks arguing against or for anything without this info? Or is it just NIMBY talk?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Not NIMBY. Some 600 students would be added. Not a trivial concern in light of maxed-out schools and ongoing budget constraints.