Within the confines of Gaithersburg's new Crown Development is a 32-acre plot that, unlike much of the planned residential and retail sites on the property's approximately 180 acres, will go untouched for an extended period.
That plot, donated to Montgomery County Public Schools by the City of Gaithersburg and Crown developers, will serve as a future high school, but not for at least six years, MCPS spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala told Patch.
In fact, such a school technically doesn't even exist, MCPS spokesperson Dana Tofig said.
"The [Board of Education] purchases land, or gathers, in trust that what they own could be used for future development as a school," Tofig said. "There is nothing in our CIP, not even planning funds, for a school on [the Crown] site."
But eventually a new high school will be built there, Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney A. Katz said. It's really just a matter of time.
"We’re going to have the school site, which eventually, not that we’re having that immediately, that will affect our children for years to come," Katz told Patch on a bus tour of the Crown development. "This is really something that’s not just for the people that will be living [in Crown], it’s something for the entire Montgomery County area, for the whole community."
Although he's unsure how MCPS would draw district lines, Katz said he believes the new high school will be used to help reduce overcrowding at area high schools.
Gaithersburg, Quince Orchard, Richard Montgomery and Thomas S. Wootton high schools are all within five miles of Crown and only Richard Montgomery had enrollment numbers for the 2011-12 school year that did not exceed respective maximum capacities, according to MCPS.
Gaithersburg High School (Gaithersburg)
- 2011-12 Enrollment: 2,008
- 2011-12 Capacity: 1,974 (expanding to 2,284 for 2013-14)
- 2017-18 Projected Enrollment: 2,087
Quince Orchard High School (Gaithersburg)
- 2011-12 Enrollment: 1,780
- 2011-12 Capacity: 1,777
- 2017-18 Projected Enrollment: 1,903
Richard Montgomery High School (Rockville)
Thomas S. Wootton High School (Rockville)
- 2011-12 Enrollment: 2,101
- 2011-12 Capacity: 2,232
- 2017-18 Projected Enrollment: 2,301
- 2011-12 Enrollment: 2,318
- 2011-12 Capacity: 2,091
- 2017-18 Projected Enrollment: 2,249
Still, there is concern that the high school may not be built within 20 years, at which point the land would be returned to the city, council member Jud Ashman said at a Monday evening work session with MCPS officials.
"It doesn't look, according to your [enrollment] projections, like there will be any need for a high school in the next 20 years," Ashman said.
Katz said the bottom line is the land is there for a school to built, and it's possible the city and MCPS could renegotiate their agreement for the site many years down the road.
Because MCPS currently has no plans for the property, Tofig said it could not engage in any speculation regarding future high school district changes.
Katz, however, said MCPS will draw from multiple areas to "make certain that the population is diverse in every way."
The mayor also said he believes this is the first time in MCPS history in which a land owner was able to donate an entire high school site.
Tofig said he could not confirm it was the county's first high school site provided by a developer, but added, "It would be extremely rare. It is more common with elementary school sites."
(July 26, 2012)
(July 25, 2012)
(July 25, 2012)
(July 24, 2012)
(July 18, 2012)