Annual School Test Shows Bethesda Area Schools Over Capacity

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High SchoolAn annual test of schools capacity that will go before the Planning Board on Thursday shows all three Bethesda area high schools are projected to be over capacity in five years, but not enough to trigger a moratorium on residential subdivision development.

Planning staff is recommending the Board approve its projections, which show none of the area’s elementary, middle or high schools are projected to meet the 120 percent capacity mark in 2018. School clusters that meet that mark are required to go into a development moratorium.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School is projected to hit 117 percent capacity by 2018, but the cluster will be spared the subdivision development moratorium with a “placeholder” project of 10 classrooms. MCPS officials hope an addition that would increase the overcrowded school’s capacity to 2,200 from its current 1,665 will be put into the capital budget and completed by the 2017-2018 school year.

The test projects an enrollment of 2,191 students at B-CC by 2018. The capacity, with the placeholder project, is listed at 1,867.

No school clusters at any level in the county merit the development moratorium, according to the test. B-CC is the closest high school to that mark. Middle schools in the Walt Whitman cluster will be at 118.5 percent capacity in 2018, with 1,506 students in facilities that can hold just 1,271 students.

Many schools are over the 105 percent capacity mark, which means residential developers in those subdivisions must make school facility payments.

MCPS staff prepares the schools test and Planning staff reviews it each spring after the Montgomery County Council approves a capital budget or amendments to the capital budget.

The test projects Walter Johnson High School at 108 percent capacity, with a projected enrollment of 2,467 students and a capacity of 2,274. It also projects a 114 percent capacity for Walt Whitman High School, with an enrollment of 2,098 students and a capacity of 1,828.

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